ELYRIA, OH. (August 24, 2022) – Commander Walter Lijana of the Thomas Mihalis Veterans of Foreign
Wars (VFW) Post 1079 announced the kick-off of this year’s educational programs. These programs
consist of the Voice of Democracy Scholarship & Patriot’s Pen Youth Essay competitions, and the
Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award contest.
Voice of Democracy – Local high school students have the opportunity to compete for thousands of dollars
in scholarships and a trip to Washington, D.C. Students must write and record a three-to-five-minute essay
on a selected theme. Post winners compete at the District level with the winner advancing to the state
competition. All state first-place winners receive a four-day trip to Washington, D.C., and the chance to
compete for their share of more than $150,000 in scholarships. The first-place winner receives a $30,000
Patriot’s Pen – Middle school students in grades 6-8 in this area have the opportunity to compete and win
thousands of dollars in national awards. The VFW enacted the Patriot’s Pen competition in 1995 to
encourage young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern
American society by composing a 300- to 400-word patriotic-themed essay. Post winners advance to District
competition with District winners advancing to the state competition. State first-place winners compete for
their share of thousands of dollars in awards, and the national first-place winner is awarded $5,000 and an
all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
Smart/Maher Teacher Award – Every year, the VFW recognizes exceptional teachers for their outstanding
commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students. The winning teachers from each (state)
Department receive a national citation for themselves, and one for their school. Current certified/licensed
teachers of grades K-12 can be nominated by fellow teachers, students, family members, other interested
individuals or nominate themselves. Teachers who promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism,
and strive to help students develop a better understanding of democratic values and beliefs are prime candidates
for the award.
For more information about the Voice of Democracy or Patriot’s Pen competitions,
contact the program
chairman, Jim Hasko at VFW Post 1079 by phone at 440-322-6980.
If you have any questions about the Smart/Maher Teacher Award contest,
contact the program chairman, Marco Cuevas at VFW Post 1079 by phone at 440-365-8500.