By Haylee Pence
TROY – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) holds an annual Voice of Democracy essay competition where the national first place winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship. The other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000.
The VFW’s Voice of Democracy essay competition strives to promote patriotism while investing in the future generations. The competition begins between students at a local post level. The winners from this level advance to the district level and then the state level until the winners are decided and present their essays at the nation’s capital.
This year’s theme is “America: Where Do We Go From Here?” The local and district level competitions have already been conducted, and local Troy High School senior Olivia “Olive” Stringer has won on both levels. Stringer is advancing to the State Level Competition. She will compete in Columbus on Jan. 15 at the VFW Ceremony for all of Ohio’s District Winners to present their speeches.
Stringer said her essay “is more of a broader idea route.” She wrote about the “struggles and problems that historical figures have faced, like Abraham Lincoln.” When she focuses on the present-day issues in her essay, Stringer suggests “compromise is what we need to start moving forward in the United States.” She examines “what America is at its core.”
Stringer has family members involved in the military, including her father, who serves in the National Guard. She said, “Military members are fighting for freedom and to make the world a better place. We, as a nation, should come together to see that goal through.”
“It was a really great surprise, and it was a great moment seeing him proud of me,” Stringer said in response to winning at the district level.
Her grandfather is a member of the VFW, and he presented the competition to her, which is why Stringer decided to compete. “It felt great to put my skills to use while bringing us closer together,” Stringer said.
After graduation, Stringer plans to attend Ohio University studying Wildlife and Conservation Biology in hopes to one day become a wildlife refuge manager. She said that she “likes to rescue lizards.” She enjoys taking care of animals and nursing them back to health.