Megan Paczos, a junior at Austin High School, has won the State Voice of Democracy Award for an essay she wrote last year when she was a sophomore. — Eric Johnson/

Archived Story

A voice for democracy

Published 11:40am Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Patriotism is alive in Austin, as Megan Poczos can tell you.

The Austin High School junior was recognized by state Veterans of Foreign Wars officials Tuesday morning for her award-winning Voice of Democracy essay.

“It’s just a great experience,” Poczos said with a smile.

Poczos won the VFW’s 1st District and state Voice of Democracy essay contest last year, writing on how people show their patriotism and support for the troops every day, in large and small ways. As the representative of Minnesota, she went to Washington D.C. in March for a week where she met other state winners, toured the country’s capitol and placed 24th out of 54 essays.

“The D.C. trip was not only one of the best experiences of my life, but I met so many wonderful people,” she said.

Aside from representatives in all 50 states, there were VFW winners from Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases in Germany, Japan and the Pacific Islands.

In addition, Poczos earned about $2,500 in college scholarship money.

“It’s really a great honor for us in the 1st District,” said Duane Hermanson, judge advocate for the Minnesota VFW.

Though Poczos can’t compete in this year’s competition, which will ask students whether the U.S. Constitution is still relevant, she said she’s already checking whether she will qualify to write an essay next year.

“If anyone is interested in doing this, I would strongly encourage it,” she told classmates Tuesday morning.

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