PATCHOGUE, N.Y. – Deputy Presiding Officer Rob Calarco joined members of VFW Post 2913 and the Auxiliary to honor five students who won the annual “Voice of Democracy” and “Patriot’s Pen” essay contests.
Established in 1947, the “Voice of Democracy” is a Veteran’s of Foreign Wars-sponsored audio-essay contest for students in grades 9-12. Each year the students have a unique opportunity to submit a patriotic or democratically themed essay. This year’s theme is “Why My Vote Matters.” A committee of VFW members and volunteer readers selected two winners, Travis Visco (1st Place) and Jarod Avante Gonzales (2nd Place). They each touched upon the themes of being responsible citizens, members of a larger community, and the importance of making your voice heard.
The “Patriot’s Pen” contest for younger students from sixth to eighth grades is an essay-only contest. The theme for this year is “Why I Honor the American Flag” and entries were judged by the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW Post. The winners, Lianah Nava (1st Place), Hannah Mantle (2nd Place) and Thorston Knatz (3rd Place) each wrote about immigration and new communities, opportunities, and the strength of a united country.
More than 172,000 students from across the country enter the essay contests. Local winners read their essays at the state level, and winners from each state compete in Washington, DC.