Alvarado Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9299 announced this week that the entry forms for the 2007-2008 Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy essay contests are now available.

The contests, sponsored by the VFW, entail writing an essay about a patriotic topic and then competing against more than 115,000 students across the nation for prizes.

First-place in the Patriot’s Pen contest wins a $10,000 savings bond and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C, and the top national winners each receive a savings bond worth anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

Endorsed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ contest criteria, this year’s theme for the 300-400 word essay is “Why I am an American Patriot.”

According to the VFW, “historically, the theme - chosen by the VFW commander-in-chief - is purposely kept broad in scope to allow the participant flexibility in interpretation to encourage originality.”

“Since the VFW is a patriotic organization, the annual theme always will be related to patriotism,” organization materials state.

The Patriot’s Pen contest is open to students in grades six through eight and all entries - consisting of the entry form and essay - must be turned into the local VFW Post by the entry deadline of Nov. 1, 2007.

Like the Patriot’s Pen, The Voice of Democracy contest also features a patriotic theme.

This year, that theme is “My Role in Honoring America’s Veterans,” and was selected by the VFW commander-in-chief.

“Created in 1947, the Voice of Democracy scholarship program is an audio-essay contest for high school students in grades nine through 12 that annually provides more than $3 million in scholarships,” VFW materials state.

First place in the national contest brings a $30,000 schol-arship that is paid directly to the student’s college or vocational/technical school.

Other national scholarships available to contestants range from $1,000-16,000 and each department’s (a geographic region) winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. sponsored by Target.

Like the Patriot’s Pen contest, the Voice of Democracy contest is endorsed by the National Association of Secondary School Principals' contest criteria, and “is designed to foster patriotism by allowing students the opportunity to voice their opinion in a three to five minute essay based on an annual theme,” contest information states.

For more information, interested parties may call VFW Post 9299 in Alvarado at (817) 783-8787 or the VFW National Programs office during normal business hours at (816) 968-1117.

E-mail Anthony at alvaradopost@sbcglobal.net.