Each year, nearly 68,800 students in sixth through eighth grades enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards. Each first place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, and the national first place winner wins $5,000!
The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief. Before submitting your essay, read the rules and eligibility requirements, and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2023-2024 entry form here.
The 2023-24 theme is:
"How Are You Inspired by America?"
About the 2022-2023 winner ...
Leighton Peters, a seventh grade student from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, was named the 2022-2023 Patriot's Pen first place winner. Her essay on the theme, "My Pledge to Our Veterans" won her a $5,000 award. Leighton was sponsored by VFW Post 2204 and its Auxiliary in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
Watch as Leighton delivered her winning essay, during the VFW's Parade of Winners streamed live on Facebook, or read her essay here. See the complete list of 2023 national winners.