JAY — Frank L. Mitchell Post 3335 in Jay honored their top three competitors in both the Voice of Democracy, open to students in grades 9 -12, and the Patriot’s Pen essay contest for students in grades 6 – 8. The theme for the Patriot’s Pen competition was “What Patriotism Means to Me.”

This is the 67th year of the Voice of Democracy audio-essay scholarship competition, which is sponsored by the VFW and its Women’s Auxiliary. The VOD contest requires high school student entrants to write and record a three to five minute essay on a patriotic theme. For 2013-2014 the theme was “Why I’m Optimistic About our Nation’s Future.”

Post 3335 Commander Palmer Hebert welcomed everyone and thanked the contestants for their participation and said, “It is times like this when I am optimistic about our country’s future. These young men and women are our future.”

He also added that he doesn’t understand why more students don’t compete. Prizes and scholarships are awarded at the local, district, state and national levels. On the National level each state winner is brought to Washington D.C., to tour the city and compete for $152,000 in scholarships, with the first-place winner receiving a $30,000 scholarship; second, $16,000; third, $10,000; fourth through 31st place, $7,000 to $1,500; and remaining winners, $1,000.

The local VOD winners were Adam Wilcox, first place; Katherine Hayes, second place and Andrew Wilcox, third place.

Adam was asked to present his essay to those who attended the recognition dinner. No stranger to the contest, he and his twin brother Andrew are seniors this year and have entered past competitions.

“The citizens of America have many rights and freedoms. In our history, to this present day, great men and women have worked diligently to preserve them,” he said.

He noted that some may be pessimistic about the nation’s future, especially in the light of government shutdowns and the national debt. But if the rights of the people are respected, he feels that there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future.

“Finally, if America does not abandon the beliefs and principles that she was founded on, there will always be hope for this great country,” he said.

Patriot’s Pen winners for Post 3335 were Brian Hayes, first place, Madeline Timberlake, second and Libby Diaz, third.

Brian Hayes quoted Voltaire, saying “It is lamentable that to be a good patriot one must become an enemy of the rest of mankind.” He explained that he partly agreed with Voltaire, saying, “He is right in saying that to be a patriot one must also be an enemy, but not to all mankind, only to those for whom love of country is not the first choice.”

He then quoted parts of the song “America, My Country Tis of Thee” pointing out what the first verse meant to him. He ended his essay with these words, “A patriot is one who goes and fights for his ideals, regardless of popularity, because he loves his homeland. He fights with passion, to prove his ideals are correct.”

The Post also honored teacher Denise Acritelli, who has made the Patriot’s Pen essay a required part of her curriculum.

“If it were not for her,” said John Dube, “We would have gotten two essays instead of 20.”

The Voice of Democracy Program is open to students in grades 9-12 (on the Nov. 1 deadline), who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories.

The deadline for submissions for the 2014-2015 program is Nov. 1, 2014. The theme for the program is: “Why Veterans are Important to our Nation’s History and Future.” Students should record their reading of the draft to a CD. The recording can be no shorter than three minutes and no longer than five minutes (plus or minus five seconds).

Entries begin at the Post level. Once the student creates their essay and completes burning the audio version to a CD, they can submit their typed version, CD and the Voice of Democracy entry form to their local participating VFW Post by the Nov. 1 deadline.


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