HAMPDEN – The Veterans of Foreign Wars held its statewide Voice of Democracy-Patriotic Pen youth essay contest banquet at the Waterville Elks Club recently with more than 250 members and guests attending from across Maine.
Jessica Dougherty of Hampden, one of 504 contestants, was the statewide first place winner in the Voice of Democracy contest. She is the daughter of Phillip and Suzanne Dougherty.
“I was completely shocked when I learned my essay won,” she said.
A Bangor Christian School senior, she was sponsored by VFW Post 1761.
Jessica received a $1,500 scholarship and was given an all-expenses-paid four-day trip to the Freedom Foundation in Valley Forge, Pa., and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington this month to compete in the national Voice of Democracy competition.
“I’m looking forward to going to Washington,” she said before the trip. “I would just love to meet the president. If that happened, it would make my day.”
Jessica placed eighth at the national level and received a $3,500 scholarship.
Second place winner in the state competition and the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship was Kristian Hodge of Livermore Falls, sponsored by VFW Post 3335 in Jay.
Third place winner and recipient of a $500 scholarship was Kaetlin Parent of Van Buren, sponsored by VFW Post 9389 in Caribou.
First place winner in the Patriotic Pen youth essay contest was Mindy Fowler of Winslow. Sarah Cutting, sponsored by VFW Post 11362 in Naples, placed second; and Luke Dylan, sponsored by VFW Post 9150 of Lewiston, placed third.
Eleven district essay contest winners attended the banquet and awards ceremony. Winners read their essays at the event.
The VFW sponsors the essay contest in hopes of instilling in young people a sense of patriotism and pride in America. At the national level, contestants have the opportunity to win scholarships of up to $25,000 in the Voice of Democracy contest and $10,000 in the Patriotic Pen contest.
Students in grades six to eight are eligible to enter the Patriotic Pen essay contest. The theme for next year’s competition is “Who Are Today’s Patriots?”
Students in grades nine to 12 may enter the Voice of Democracy contest. Next year’s theme is “How I Demonstrate My Freedom.”
To learn more about the essay contests, call Paul Colburn, 945-9850.