Patriots Pen


Each year more than 100,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The first-place winner from each state competes to win one of 46 national awards totaling $46,000. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March.

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.2014 Patriot's Pen winner

Alexis Canen, an 8th-grade student, was named the 2013-2014 Patriot’s Pen 1st-place winner.                  

Her essay on the 2013-2014 theme, “What Patriotism Means to Me,” won her a $5,000 award. Alexis was sponsored by VFW Post 1125 and Ladies Auxiliary in Glendive, Mont.


The Patriot’s Pen program is open to students in grades 6-8 (on the Nov. 1 deadline), who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial school or home study program in the United States and its territories.

The deadline for submissions for the 2014-2015 program is November 1, 2014.  Download the application.

If you experience problems with printing the application, please try to print the document from Internet Explorer. If you continue to experience problems, contact the VFW National Headquarters for assistance.

The theme is: Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans

Students can ask a teacher or youth group leader to supervise their progress in the competition. Then students can contact a local participating VFW Post and establish a contact person who is a member of that Post or its Ladies Auxiliary.

Essays must be no less than 300 words and cannot exceed 400 words. They should be submitted to the Post, along with the completed Patriot’s Pen entry form no later than the November 1 deadline.

Knowledge of the theme is worth 30 points. You must show a thorough knowledge of the theme in your work. Demonstrate you have researched the issue extensively.

Theme development is worth 35 points. Answer all relevant facts about the theme such as the who, what, where, when and why. Relate the theme to your own experiences.

Clarity of ideas is worth 35 points. Write your essay in an easy-to-understand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.

Read the winning essay from 2013.