Students honored in local Patriot’s Pen, Voice of Democracy contests

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Pictured above are (left to tight) Traci Bobzin representing Concordia Bank, and Patriot's Pen winners first-place winner Holly Brown, second-place winner Jules Bobzin, third-place winner Harry William Rehkop, with Sr. Master Sergeant Justin Dietz USAF, and VFW Auxiliary President Jeanie Peterson.
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Winners of the annual VFW Patriot’s Pen essay contest and the annual Voice of Democracy audio essay contest were announced at a banquet held Tuesday, Nov. 14. This year’s contest had more than 75 entries.

Saint Paul Lutheran High School students captured first, second, and third place in Concordia’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition. This year’s theme was “American History: Our Hope for the Future.”

Taking home first place, and a $375 scholarship, was Elizabeth G. Gillet; second place and a $250 scholarship went to Rachel E. Self: and third place, along with a $150 scholarship, was captured by Victoria L. Ritzma.

Pictured above are (left to right) VFW Auxiliary President Jeanie Peterson, Concordia Bank representative Traci Bobzin, and Voice of Democracy winners - second-place winner Rachel E. Self, first-place winner Elizabeth G. Gillet, third-place winner Victoria L. Ritzma, with Sr. Master Sergeant Justin Dietz USAF.
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This year’s theme in the Patriot’s Pen competition was “America’s Gift to My Generation.” Taking home first place, and a $250 scholarship, was Holly Brown from Concordia High School; second place and a $150 scholarship went to Jules M. Bobzin of St. Paul’s Lutheran Elementary School: and third place, along with a $100 scholarship, was awarded to Harry W. Rehkop, also of St. Paul’s Lutheran Elementary School.

All three winning entries in each contest will now move on to be judged at the District 6 competition, which will include entries from nine counties in west-central Missouri.

Gene Virus, VFW Post No. 5649 Senior Vice-Commander, said the VFW is all about promoting youth and patriotism.

“We are dedicated to promoting patriotism and investing our time and energy in future generations,” Virus said. “We all really enjoy the time and interaction we have with the local students.”

Virus added that the local VFW post was honored to have a sponsoring business help with the scholarships awarded this year.

“We were glad that Concordia Bank came on board and helped with the scholarships this year,” he said. “Because of their sponsorship, we were able to almost double the amount of scholarships we granted this year over past years.”

The local Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen contests are hosted jointly by VFW Post No. 5649 and VFW Post No. 5649 Auxiliary. Tony Howe is commander of the local VFW post, while Jeanie Peterson serves as president of the post auxiliary.

The VFW website says: “If you are a democracy-loving high school student interested in a $30,000 college scholarship or a patriotic middle school student interested in winning $5,000, these scholarships may be for you.”

Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regard to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 40,000 ninth- through 12th-grade students from across the country enter to win their share of $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.

The national first-place winner in the Voice of Democracy audio essay competition receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. A complete list of other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000, and the first-place winner from each VFW Department (state) wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

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