Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest
Each year more than 138,000 students in grades 6 through 8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $900,000 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 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has again approved this contest for its National Advisory List of Contests and Activities.
The theme for Patriot’s Pen for 2020-2021 is "What is Patriotism to Me?" To qualify, all entries must be
submitted to a sponsoring VFW Post by October 31, 2020.
The entry form which also shows the complete
contest rules and how essays are judged can be downloaded from this
Students in the Lombard, Illinois, area should
download the form 2020-2021 Patriot’s Pen Entry Form, read and follow the rules on the form, and send the completed form and their essay to the VFW Lilac Post 5815, Patriot’s Pen Chairperson, PO Box 1912, Lombard, IL 60148-8912, by midnight, October 31, 2020.
Students elsewhere can download this form and use the website at
to find a sponsoring VFW Post in their area.
The essays are evaluated by members of the Post
and Auxiliary. The winners at the VFW Lilac Post 5815 level
each receive a small cash award, the opportunity to advance to the
District (regional) level, and an invitation to a party in January 2021
for the winners, along with their parents and teachers.
Who can enter? - Patriot’s Pen is open
to all students who are in grades 6, 7, and 8 in fall 2020 and are
enrolled in public, private, or parochial schools in the U.S., its
territories, or its possessions. Home-schooled students also are
eligible. Dependents of U.S. military or civilian personnel in
overseas schools can participate too. (Foreign exchange students and
former winners that placed in the National finals are excluded from the
What do I need to enter? - Each student should complete
and sign the student entry form portion on Page 1 of the form, staple
the form to the essay, and sent it to their local VFW Post. Be sure to read and follow the rules on this
website and on the entry form. All
essays should be typewritten in English with no color or graphics and
cannot be less than 300 words or greater than 400 words in length. (Essays under or over these word amounts will be eliminated.) Every word is counted regardless of length. The essay title (theme) or added footnotes do not contribute to the word count.
In no way may contestants identify themselves in their essay. Do not put your name on your essay. The entry form is your essay’s cover sheet. Secure the Official Student Entry Form with a staple or other fastener on top of your essay. Essays must be written exclusively for this competition. Use of the same essay for other competitions will result in disqualification. Contestants are allowed to enter only once (one Post competition) each year. Contestants found in violation of this rule will face elimination from the competition and will be required to return any and all prize money awarded or received. The essay must be a contestant’s original work and a product
of the contestant’s own thinking. The approach to the Patriot’s Pen theme should be positive and clearly focused. Poetry is not acceptable. Quotations may be used sparingly if plainly identified wherever used. A contestant’s teacher, counselor, or parent may check the essay for punctuation, grammar, and/or spelling; but the content must remain the contestant’s. Contestants will be judged on the basis of their essay alone and are not required to present the essay orally.
All essays become the property of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW
retains non-exclusive rights to use your essay and likeness in the
promotion and execution of the organization’s programs and activities.
|The photos below were taken at the
Patriot's Pen Award Dinner on January 30, 2010.
Patriot's Pen, a VFW-sponsored essay writing
contest, is a nationwide competition that gives students in grades 6,7,
and 8 the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on
George Miller, Commander of VFW Post 5815,
and Chris Breyne, its Ladies Auxiliary President, present Evan Grove
with his award as the VFW Post 5815 winner in the 2009 Patriot's Pen
contest. The theme for the 2009-2010 contest was "When Is the
Right Time To Honor Our Military Heroes?"
These pictures were taken at the dinner on
January 30, 2010, for all the Patriot's Pen winners in the 19th
District VFW and Ladies Auxiliaries. The 19th District winner then
goes to the state competition in Springfield, IL.
From left to right are George Miller, Chris
Breyne, Evan Grove, Sue Grove, Perry Grove, and Julia Grove (Evan's
parents and sister).
This page was last updated September 21, 2020.