Francesca 'Frankie' Bill
2020-2021 National Scholarships Ambassador
Pulling Together to Turn Challenges into Opportunities
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade! This is precisely what happened when the 2021 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Parade of Winners (traditionally hosted in Washington D.C.) was cancelled and presented via Facebook Live on April 1, 2021. What a night! There were almost 1,000 online viewers, not including those who watched alongside with family members and comrades. This first-ever nationwide virtual event was broadcast by the VFW and sponsored by Twisted X and Dell Computers. Each winning student from 52 locations was given a laptop computer along with a scholarship for their participation in the 2020-2021 Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Contest and Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest. For a recap of the event, a full list of winners, including their audio essays, please visit the VFW National website: 2021 Virtual Parade of Winners – VFW.
The Voice of Democracy top prize is a $30,000 T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship. This was awarded to Erin Stoeckig from the Department of Minnesota. Erin is a junior from Mayo High School in Rochester and was sponsored by VFW Post 1215 and its Auxiliary. Listen to her winning speech covering the 2020-2021 theme “Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?”.
The Patriot’s Pen grand prize winner received the $5,000 Paul A. Spera Past Commander-in-Chief Award. This was awarded to Wyatt Perkins from the Department of North Dakota. Wyatt is a sixth grade home school student from Mayville and was sponsored by VFW Post 4221 in Portland. Watch him deliver his winning essay covering the 2020-2021 theme “What is Patriotism to Me?”. Congratulations to all the winners! Thank you to all those involved for their remote participation in a successful and exciting evening.
Themes for the upcoming 2021-2022 program year for both the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Contests have been announced. The 2021-2022 theme for the Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Contest is “America: Where Do We Go From Here?”. The 2021-2022 theme for the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest is “How Can I Be a Good American?” Entries for both contests must be received at the local VFW Post by October 31, 2021.
I look forward to seeing each of the Young American Creative Patriotic Art Department-winning entries this summer on the national Facebook page. Each piece will be featured, starting with Alabama and ending with Wyoming, throughout June and July.
I’d also like to extend congratulations to the 2020-2021 Continuing Education Scholarship winners. Watch for the announcement of the four Conference winners on the national Facebook page this week.
I wish to applaud everyone who remained vigilant, encouraged optimism and maintained a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity. Lemons represent the difficulties we face in life. By pulling together to ‘make lemonade,’ everyone made program challenges or lemons into something positive. From students to scholarship applicants and to Auxiliary plus VFW members; you, we, us, ALL did our part to promote and participate in the Scholarships Program. THANK YOU!