ALA Americanism Essay Contest: Stimulating students’ patriotism through writing

Posted On: Thursday, 07 March 2024

Guest blog post by National Americanism Committee Chair Sallie Rossman and National Americanism Committee Vice Chair Wendy Riggle
The Americanism Essay Contest is sponsored annually by the American Legion Auxiliary and allows students to develop their thoughts and knowledge on what being an American signifies. The process of writing the essay enables students to explore the various facets of Americanism and patriotism. Students examine the rights and freedoms given to citizens through the struggles and sacrifices of our citizens provided in the United States Constitution and why flag history and etiquette acknowledge those who served and are still serving our country to maintain our freedoms. The national president’s Americanism Essay Contest 2024 topic is “What does freedom mean to me?”
American Legion Auxiliary units nationwide sponsor the essay contest for all third- through 12th-grade students, including those with disabilities. The essay contest cover sheet identifies the six classes determined by grade level, with specific word count requirements and a checklist to ensure fulfillment of all requirements. Members and students can find essay information here
Local ALA units coordinate with community schools, home-schooled students, ALA Girls State, and youth organizations to identify students to participate in the essay contest. Units connect with students through exhibits and flyers in libraries, churches, and social and print media. Auxiliary members networking within their communities and utilizing their connections with school boards, businesses, and organizations provide vital avenues for disseminating awareness of the Americanism Essay Contest in the context of inspiring knowledgeable, young citizens who are essential for the future of our nation.  
The department (state) level receives each unit’s winners in the six classes to determine the winner in each class to represent their department at the national division level. At the national level, each division selects a winner for each of the six classes. The national division winners in each class receive an award of $50 and a $50 donation in the student’s name to the ALA’s Children of Warriors National Presidents’ Scholarship fund.
The Americanism Essay Contest instills in our youth patriotism in our country while allowing students to reflect on what freedom means to them. This contest serves the ALA’s mission, creating a nation of citizens inspired to protect our liberties and respect our country’s flag for future generations.
The deadline for departments to submit their winning essays for consideration to their Americanism national division chair is April 15, 2024. For further information on the ALA Americanism Essay Contest, go to

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.