Patriotism. It’s having devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country; and for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, inspiring patriotism is imperative, particularly among the youth who will one day become the future leaders of the U.S.
In pursuit of this goal, the national VFW Auxiliary offers a series of scholarship programs geared toward encouraging young Americans to explore what patriotism means to them. These programs give students all across the country the chance to express their thoughts and ideas on patriotism in a variety of different ways, from artistic to written to verbal.
This year, the VFW Auxiliary’s Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest has thrust one Pahrump student into the national spotlight, with Pahrump Valley High School junior Larky White earning prestige and recognition for taking fifth place in the nationwide art contest.
In honor of his achievement, the VFW Post #10054 Auxiliary invited White to its most recent meeting, where he was presented with his winnings, which included $75 from the post level, $250 from the state level and a $1,500 scholarship for placing in the national contest.
VFW Post #10054 Auxiliary President Bonnie Darrell was obviously delighted to have White in attendance on August 8. She started off the presentation by telling the crowd, “We have been so lucky this year that our patriotic art winner, Larky White, he won from our post and then he went to state and won at state and then he went to nation where he won fifth in the nation!”
This pronouncement was met with a loud round of applause from the men and women of the auxiliary, all of whom were visibly beaming with pride. Darrell handed a smiling and slightly blushing White his $75 as well as a certificate recognizing his win at the post level before turning it over to Nevada State VFW Auxiliary Past President Cindy Kaminski, who presented White with his state certificate and winnings. Past Nevada State VFW Auxiliary President Linda Wright then stepped in to bestow upon White his national letter of recognition but before she did that, she took a moment to explain some of White’s background with the patriotic art contest.
“This is the second year that Larky has entered our art contest,” Wright said. “He won from our post last year, went to state, won at state and went to nationals but he didn’t place at nationals. So he got the opportunity to do it again this year and we are so proud that he did. And he has grown in his artwork!”
Wright also read from the letter from nationals, which congratulated him on being one of the nine winners selected for the 2019-2020 contest. “On behalf of the more than 475,000 members of the VFW Auxiliary, we thank you for participating in this program and wish you continued success in your education,” Wright read.
Amid much clapping and expressions of appreciation, White humbly accepted his certificates and letter, along with a bag of swag provided by the auxiliary but the presentations did not stop there.
While the meeting may have been geared toward giving White his winnings, that was not the only presentation made that afternoon. White came prepared with a couple of special items for the auxiliary as well and a visibly touched and highly grateful Darrell proudly accepted the framed copy of his artwork along with a framed copy of the speech that White penned to go along with it.
“The United States Flag flies high in a bright blue sky, back-lit by the rising sun. Thirteen stripes represent the original 13 colonies and 50 white embroidered stars represent each state of our union. The color of the flag: red, white and blue stand for bravery, purity and justice,” White read for those attending the meeting. “This piece of art was inspired by my grandfather Harold (Gus) Wabbel. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War from 1968-1972. He was a boiler man in the belly of three ships, the first being the USS Valley Forge LPH-8, an aircraft carrier built during World War II that was decommissioned in 1970 after the Vigil 1969 operations. This is the ship pictured here.
“My grandfather is an amazing example of patriotism because he volunteered himself to protect his family and country during an unpopular war, a time when veterans were not treated respectfully by many civilians when they returned home,” White continued. “He came from Tulare County, the highest draft county in California and enlisted at only 18 years of age, only one year older than I am now. He gave an oath to, ‘defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ He stands by this oath to this day. This piece illustrates the best expression of patriotism in art because it represents one of many veterans that have defended our great country. This veteran, I have a personal connection with, look up to, and have the pleasure of calling my grandfather, my defender of freedom.”
The Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest is open to students in grades nine through 12 and those interested in participating in the 2020-2021 contest are encouraged to start visualizing their entries now in preparation for the coming year.
Art submissions can come in an array of forms, including two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces, and can be created using a variety of mediums, ranging from watercolor to ink, oil to markers, pottery to metal and more.
Submissions must be made to the local VFW Auxiliary by March 31, 2021 for judging.
Complete rules, requirements and entry forms can be found online at www.vfwauxiliary.org in the “Scholarships” drop-down menu.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional VFW scholarship opportunities open now
In addition to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest, the VFW offers students to chance to earn scholarships through the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen programs.
Voice of Democracy is an audio-essay contest that gives students in grades nine through 12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay, with over $1.9 million in educational scholarships and incentives up for grabs each year.
The 2020-2021 contest is now open with the theme “Is this this country the founders envisioned?” Submissions for the Voice of Democracy contest must be made by midnight on October 31.
Patriot’s Pen is an essay-only program open to students in grades six through eight, who have the opportunity to earn their share of more than $900,000 in state and national awards. This contest, which is also open now, encourages youth to “…examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300-400 word essay, expressing their views…” according to the VFW website.
The theme for the 2020-2021 Patriot’s Pen contest is “What is Patriotism to me?” All submissions must be made to the local VFW post by midnight on October 31.
Complete rules and entry forms for both of these scholarship programs can be found online at www.vfw.org. Click on the “Community” tab, followed by the “Youth and Education” link.