Guest blog post by Norma Tramm, 2021-2022 National Americanism Committee Chair
The Americanism Essay Contest is an opportunity for our youth to hone their writing skills. The American Legion Auxiliary national president helps provide the essay title that will reflect the national president’s focus for the year. This year, the title is, “How can we support families who provide care to their veterans?” The students can reflect on their own families and how they provide care to their veterans, or they can reflect on how they see others caring for veterans.
The Americanism Essay Contest cover sheet is available at www.ALAforVeterans.org. This describes the six different classes and the word requirements within each class. Students need to submit their essay to a unit who will then make a choice in each class and send their winners to the department Americanism chair for judging.
Units can reach out to schools in their area, homeschool students, scout groups, and other places where children gather, sharing the information on what is expected of the student and how they can submit their entry and when the deadline is.
Minnesota’s Davis-Darrow-Meyer Unit 112 has over 25 years of Americanism essay winners. They provide the teachers with the information and set the deadline for submission. They have had the most success with the younger students and have had up to 150 entries. Some of the teachers use this prompt as an assignment for the class. The chair reads all the entries and then divides the essays into groups of 10 with others judging until they have their winners.
The unit has voted to give prizes of $25 to first place, $15 to second place, and $10 to third place, along with certificates. Units have a choice to give money or possibly ribbons and certificates. It is up to the unit as to how they wish to recognize their winners. Unit 112 invites the winners, their parents, and the public to an evening celebration where the students read their essays and are given their awards. The winning essays are then sent to the department Americanism chair for judging.
Each unit is able to decide the scope of their contest. You can start with the younger students and then expand to all the grades. It is a wonderful way for our students to develop good writing skills and reflect on our veterans.
Once the department Americanism chair has made their selection in each class, the essays are submitted to the National Americanism division chair by April 15. The division chair will then select a winner from each class. The American Legion Auxiliary has five divisions, and each division will have a winner in each of the six classes.
The winners receive $50 and a $50 donation in the student’s name will be made to the Children of Warriors National Presidents’ Scholarship Fund. The student will be sent the $50 check directly and a certificate will be given to the department at the time of National Convention to allow for a presentation ceremony.