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Albright Americanism Essay Contest American

Americanism

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The Future of Our Military Starts with “Americanism”

The number of American citizens who qualify to join the military under current standards is quickly decreasing as the country faces the longest period of armed conflict in its history. As a consequence, service members must go on multiple deployments as the attrition rate rises faster than recruitment, forcing too many units to rely on unfit, unstable, and unprepared service members who put themselves, their comrades, and our country at risk.

When the United States ended the draft after the war in Vietnam, many assumed that American citizens would raise their right hand, take the oath to protect the country, and serve in uniform out of a sense of patriotism. After the Twin Towers were attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, this assumption was put to the test — and the result remains a disappointing reality as less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has answered the call.

Despite the shortage of qualified and willing talent, wars in the Middle East and parts of Africa have placed demands on the military like never before, threatening morale, discipline and effectiveness. Examples include multiple suboptimal policy changes such the provision of waivers to enlist high school dropouts, felons and others normally not qualified; increasing soldiers’ deployments from 12 to 15 months; and “stop loss” orders that froze discharges and kept families apart for longer periods.

So what can be done? Will Congress bring back the draft? Highly unlikely, and unlikely to work even if it did. The Department of Defense estimates that 71 percent of the roughly 34 million 17- to 24-year-olds in the United States today would fail to qualify based on the current enlistment criteria because of physical or mental health issues, low education scores, or negative background checks. Among those who are qualified, many young people choose not to join or feel no obligation to serve in uniform. This has to change, and AMVETS has made it its mission to do so, starting with outreach to primary, middle, and high school students through the AMVETS Americanism program.

Inspiring a sense of patriotism in American children of all ages and walks of life is the best recruiting strategy for our future military and national defense.

What is the AMVETS Americanism Program?

The AMVETS Americanism Program is a patriotic program the organization offers schools and youth organizations as a resource for teaching children in kindergarten through 12th grade about their American heritage, civics and citizenship. The program includes flag drawing, poster and essay contests that are grade specific and age appropriate.

Who is eligible?
All school age children, K-12. They may attend public, private, parochial schools or may be home schooled. Participants may also come through any youth group such as Scouting or from Church Sunday schools. Students in kindergarten–1st grade can enter the Flag Drawing contest. Students in 2nd–5th grades can enter the Poster contest. Students in 6th–12th grades can enter the Essay Writing contest

How does a child or young adult participate?
Teachers or youth group leaders hopefully will take the initiative to involve their students. The program addresses learning standards in civics and presents excellent topics for writing and art assignments, which teachers can incorporate into their classes.Teachers may also contact a local AMVETS post or department to invite veterans to visit their classes. Students whose teachers or schools are not participating in the program can still enter the contest specific to their grade as a take-home or after-school project. Parents may contact a local AMVETS post or department, on behalf of their children, to submit entries or contact the AMVETS National Programs Department at 301-683-4031.

How do I enter?
Entry forms (PDF files) with contest rules, including the “themes” can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:
Americanism Contest Packet – PDF file (1.23 MB)

The 2017-2018 Americanism theme is “Why is the Constitution important to me?”

Our future themes are:
2018-2019: “Why should you say ‘Thank you’ to a Veteran?”
2019-2020: “What does freedom mean to me?”
2020-2021: “What do I think of when I see the American flag?”
2021-2022: “Why should we honor and respect our Veterans?”


Additional Resources:

Click here to see a list of the 2017 winners.

AMVETS is a member of the Citizens Flag Alliance


Testimonials from our patriots…

5 November 2017

To AMVETS,

Thank you for sponsoring my trip to Valley Forge. Over the week I have made a lot of friends and learned so much about American history. The experience has been amazing and one I won’t soon forget. Thank you again so much for this opportunity!

Thomas Borre, Indiana

Dear AMVETS,

Thank you for the opportunity to come to Pennsylvania this weekend, November 2nd through the 5th. It is an opportunity that I will never forget and I will take the lessons I learned here and use them for the rest of my life. This past weekend has been super informative and the lessons taught were very beneficial. Some of the workshops gave me some ideas that I may want to do when I am older. I loved the mock trial and learning how amendments are made. Learning about our government was super cool. I also loved coming out to Pennsylvania and seeing the places where our nation began. This will forever will be a memorable time in my life and I will never forget the memories made with my new friends in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Sincerely, Madison Hilgenkamp, Nebraska

Dear AMVETS,

Thank you so much for selecting my essay for the National Americanism Essay Contest on the topic of “Why is it important to vote?” as winner for New York State. I am incredibly grateful and deeply indebted to you for having such faith in me and for thinking that I deserve such a rare opportunity. To be perfectly honest, I have never won anything on such a large scale or been selected for anything like this as an accolade for my work. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I will always cherish and remember your organization for facilitating my first big success. The program itself was incredible and I learned so much and met so many wonderful, unique people. This weekend has been one of the best weekends of my life and it will stay in my memory forever.

Sincerely, Mary Donnelly, New York

Dear Amvets,

Thank you for offering all of us the opportunity to be able to travel to the birthplace of our nation. We were able to visit Valley Forge, where the minutemen and George Washington went to. We visited one of the most important places to U.S. history. We were in the room where it happened. Where the Declaration of Independence was signed, where the Constitution was signed [and] where the Constitutional Convention happened. So many places where history was made. It was an honor to be at a place where once, some heroes like Hamilton, Jefferson, and Washington once stood. The history of this place is amazing and overall awesome. I have taken lots of pictures that I will go share. Besides the history of this amazing place I was also able to see all different types of cultures [from] around the U.S. I met some [people] from N. Carolina, Connecticut, and New York, and I met some new people from California. I hope everyone here truly enjoyed this experience, because this was one of [my] best memories. As a[n] Immigrant of Mexico, this place makes [me] feel proud of the country I moved to and hopefully this Nation will continue to prevail. And that this Nation Under God will continue to succeed and the government of the people, by the people, and for the people will never perish. THANK YOU!!

Jorge Ochoa-Reyes, California

Lucas is a proud, young American, and winner of AMVETS’ recent Americanism poster contest.

Americanism

2017-2018

Americanism Action Plan

Joyce Smith

P.O. Box182

Chester, SD 57016

(Home) 605-489-2480

 rjsmith@itctel.com

 

Hello my name is Joyce Smith and I am so excited to be able to represent you as the department chairman for Americanism. Our Americanism Program promotes patriotism and responsible citizenship.

What can you do?

As Auxiliary members we need to be knowledgeable on flag history, flag etiquette and the proper disposal methods of our torn and flags in unfit conditions. By teaching the proper handling, displaying, and respect for the American Flag, as well as our National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance we promote Americanism.

As Auxiliary members we need to practice respect for our flag at sporting events and other public events. We could sign up at www.legion.org to receive notification on when to display our flag at half-staff.

As Units and Members

We can recruit others to support the flag amendment by explaining what it is and why it is important. Sign up for The American Legion’s Legislative action alerts and follow flag issues.

We can work with local schools to further education of the Constitution, either whole or in part such as the Bill of Rights or the Preamble.

We can always fly a flag at our home or business as another really good way to promote patriotism. By voting and encouraging other to vote is also a good way. We can visit schools and give some basic facts about our flag, Our National anthem and when & why we stand and put our hands over our hearts at parades and ball games.

 

We can contact and ask state and federal representatives to support any and all flag amendments.

Those of you who have a green thumb can volunteer to keep up the area around the flag pole at your Community’s civic government area by planting seasonal flowers and collecting trash.

Our support of Junior Shooting spots, the promoting of gun safety and marksmanship training for our youth is another way we as Units and Members can promote patriotism. We also need to support our local American Legion baseball Teams as another way to promote our patriotism.

We should encourage our school age children in our local school to participate in the Americanism Essay Contest and The South Dakota Americanism Poetry Contests and the Oratorical Contests. As members we can encourage our children & grandchildren to participate in the essay contests. We can also Help Judge the essays. This year’s Essay Contest Theme is:

 “What can I personally do to promote Americanism in my school or community?”

The contest shall include six classes

Class                      Grade Level                     Word Requirement

I                                   3 and 4                                    150-250

II                                  5 and 6                                    250-300

III                                7 and 8                                    350- 400

IV                                9 and 10                                  450-500

V                                 11 and 12                                450-500

VI                                Students with                          Word count should correspond

                                    Special needs                          with student’s grade level

Students with special needs are defined as:

·       Those in special education classes.

·       A student recommended for special education classes, but who has not been admitted due to a            waiting list or various other factors.

·       A child identified as having a disability, but not in a special education class due to lack of                  facilities; identification contingent upon discretion of school officials.

 

Student Awards:  Americanism Essay Contest

Type of award:     Citation, $50.00 prize and additional $50.00 donation added to the Children of                                     Warriors National Presidents’ Scholarship Fund.

Presented to:          30 students total, six from each division, one student for every class in each                                        division

·       Entries must include the Americanism Essay Contest cover sheet found in the Americanism              Annual Supplement to the Programs Action Plan.@ALAforVeterans.org

·       Unit winners are sent to the department Americanism chairman, (me) following department               guidelines.

·       For deadline and division Americanism chairman contact information, please refer to the                    Americanism Annual Supplement to the Programs Action Plan@ALAforVeterans.org

·       National winners will be informed of their award via communication from National                            Headquarters. The award check will be mailed directly to the student and the citation will be              forwarded to the department for presentation.

·       While ALA representatives will do their best to return all essays it is not guaranteed. We                     recommend participants retain a copy of their submission for their own records.

 Reporting:

Unit Presidents, please have your Mid Year reports to your District President by November 15th, 2017, and District Presidents I need your Mid Year Reports no later than December 1st, 2017. The Unit President's should have the Year End Reports sent to your District President by April 15 2018, and the District President's need to get the Year End reports to me by May 1st, 2018.

Please be as timely as posssible as I need time to get my report written and in to the National Chairperson. Thank you in advance for your promptness in getting the reports in on time. You can mail them to me at Joyce Smith, P. O. Box 182, Chester, SD 57016. Or at  A.L.A., P. O. Box 41, Chester, SD 57016. My email is rjsmith@itctel.com. Annual Reports reflect the progress of the program at the units and districts level.

As part of your narrative report, please include answers to the following questions:

·       How did you promote the Americanism essays contest?

·       How did units promote the flag program?

·       How did you promote patriotic holidays?

·       How did units encourage support of the flag amendment?

·       Did units support The American Legion Americanism programs? How?

·       How did units promote Americanism in their community? 

Americanism awards

Taking the time to share a favorite story about the positive impact you or someone you know has had on our mission is worth doing!  It helps us tell the world who we are, what we do, and why we matter. Just three simple steps to add your part to our national success story:

1.     Please follow instructions as you fill out the National Report and awards Cover Sheet found in          the awards section of the Programs Action Plan

2.     Provide details/examples about the activity as outlined in the award’s materials and guidelines            section.

3.     Submit as indicated in the annual supplement to the Programs Action Plan.

 

Joyce Smith


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