Patriot's Pen 2022-2023 

VFW National Headquarters announces the Patriot's Pen 2022-2023 Theme, My Pledge to Our Veterans."  

Student Entry Deadline:  October 31, 2022

Patriotic Written Essay Competition Grand Prize: $5,000 Award

Patriot's Pen Application


Patriot's Pen 2021-2022


"How Can I Be A Good American”




Jackson Harlan

First Place Winner Under School Option for Williamston Middle School, Williamston, Michigan

What does it truly mean to be a good American?  From the research I have done the answer is not simple.  It’s more than just picking up trash and helping others, it’s learning that you can be united with people different from you.  This quote from Linda Chavez really explains it "you don’t have to be born an American to become a great American.”  Being a good American means accepting people of all different backgrounds. 

What it means to be a "Good American” is putting aside your differences and fully understanding and embracing the mixing pot of cultures in America.  You don’t have to speak a language or look or act a certain way to be an American.  That’s the true power America holds.  It was created to be non-discriminatory towards people or different backgrounds and cultures.  The American dream really emphasizes this by essentially saying that anyone can get to the top economically and mentally with hard work and dedication. 

In study by Grinnell College, they polled Americans on what they thought it meant to be a "real American”.  Ninety percent of people said treating people equally is part of what it means to be a "real American”.  Many people also said that accepting people of different races and religious beliefs was important to being a real American.  This really highlights the fact that to be a good American, you need to accept people of all backgrounds 

I can really connect with this prompt due to the fact that I came out as transgender in the past year and all I’ve been able to help educate and teach about my gender identity.  I’ve also met people who haven’t accepted me for my identity.  This was hard to go through but, luckily many stepped up and helped me through this.  I would describe those people as the definition of a good American.  The acceptance I’ve received is an example of how I would describe being a good American. 

Being a good American means accepting people of all different backgrounds.  This country was founded on the ideas of acceptance and freedom.  Today with the current political climate dividing many people, it’s important we all remember those ideas, and truly unite with each other.


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"How Can I Be A Good American”


Bristol Thomas


First Place Winner Post Judging


Every day you wake up in America is a good day. I never really think about how people can be good Americans.  That is because I only know how to be a good American.  I have been raised by parents who love this country.  They have taught my sisters and I to stand for the pledge, to sing the national anthem (and all the words) and to show up for your country when your country needs you.  That could be something like serving in the military, voting or doing something like a food drive.  It also means listening to those around you.  Both the people you agree with and the people you don’t agree with because we can really learn a lot from each other.  If you shut out the voices of the people you don’t agree with, how can you learn from them and how can they learn from you?  America has always been the best country to live in because people learned from each other and then made decisions that were best for the country based on what they had discussed. 


We have gotten away from doing this.  The listening to each other part.  We need to get back to the time where people actually listen to each other to make this country a better place.  I can use my voice.  You can use your voice.  Everyone can listen to others.  Doing both of these things make America a better place.



I can also be a good American by showing others how much I love this country. I can wear red, white & blue.  I can post about what I live about America on social media. I can focus on the good.  I can focus on myself and what I can do to volunteer to my community and my school.  I can say thank you to those that served.  I can study history so that I understand it so that when I am an adult I am informed about important topics.  Eventually, I can vote.  That is always important.  I like going with my mom when she votes.  We always make sure we get the best stickers.  The most important thing is we can all be good Americans. It all starts with each of us. One at a time.