Guest blog post by Michele DeGennaro, National Americanism Committee Chair 2022-2023
Check with your department for deadline date
Each year, thousands of students across the country participate in the American Legion Auxiliary’s annual Americanism Essay Contest. It is designed to encourage our youth to promote a respect for our flag and country, and also provides an opportunity for them to learn about the fundamental rights and freedoms we enjoy today. Each year, the contest has a different theme provided by the national president. This year’s theme is, “What does patriotism mean to you?”
Students ranging from third grade to 12th are divided into six classes, including students with special needs. The Americanism Essay Contest cover sheet, available at www.ALAforVeterans.org, describes the six different classes, the word count requirement for each class, as well as the current year’s theme.
Local Auxiliary units sponsor these young students, choosing a winner in each class. Winners will move on to the department level. Departments will then submit their winners to represent their state on a national level. The national winners — one from each class in each division — will 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 sent to the winning department at the time of National Convention to present to the student.
Reach out to local schools, community clubs, and home-schooled students for participants — or in the case of Auxiliary member Mary Mooberry, Americanism chairman from the Department of Iowa — the student came to her….
“Sometimes, I ask myself why I keep so busy with the American Legion Auxiliary? Yesterday, I received a phone call from an Auxiliary member. She was a grandmother who takes her 14-year-old grandson for a Crohn's infusion in Des Moines. Traveling there, they were talking about our essay contest. This 14-year boy is laying in a hospital bed receiving an infusion and they phoned me. I had a nice visit with him, answered all his questions, then proceeded to email him the essay cover sheet. And yes, I had a tear in my eye when we were done visiting. My heart answered my question.”
Thank you, Mary, for sharing this story and for all you do. It is stories like Mary’s that inspire us to continue our service. This essay contest touches so many lives and gives all of us an opportunity to reflect on, “What does patriotism mean to you?”
Department winners are due to National Americanism Division chair by April 15, 2023. To learn more, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org/Americanism-Essay-Contest.
In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.