Andrew Kula wins VFW district essay competition


Mark Kula

In celebration of his winning essay, Andrew attended an award ceremony alongside numerous veterans in awe of his work. “During the ceremony, they said all of the wars that the United States have been a part of and all the veterans stood up. Just to be in a room with men and women who have given their all and sacrificed their lives,” Kula said.

Destina Sarussi, Copy Editor

Senior Andrew Kula recently emerged victorious in the VFW 19th District Illinois “Voice of Democracy” Essay Contest based on the prompt, “Why is the veteran important?” While several Lemont students have won the local Post #5819 contest, Kula stands as the first to win at the district level. This incredible feat qualifies Kula for the state competition in February held in Springfield, the VFW state headquarters. 

“I really focused on what makes a veteran, why communities surround themselves with veterans. Having that connection, especially today, that we can with veterans is so important,” Kula said. “I have family members that were veterans and that’s why writing that essay was important to me.”

With this impressive victory streak, Kula remains eligible for ample scholarship money, as the VFW annually awards nearly $2 million to high school students through this competition. Each level–local, district, state and national–awards a greater amount of money, including a $35,000 scholarship paid to the future school of the national first place winner.

 The competition’s unique parameters, requiring both a written and audio submission of the essay, certainly played to Kula’s speaking strengths, given his recent championship in the 2022 IHSA State Journalism Competition in Broadcasting. 

“I’ve always been into broadcasting. Anytime I can use my voice for anything is definitely something that I enjoy,” Kula said.

After coming up short in the essay competition last year, Kula had no expectation of winning at the district level this year, yet he figured, “Why not try again?” With the impressive writing skills he attributed to the AP Language and Composition class, Kula successfully tied in his expertise and passion to construct an exceptional essay.

“My big takeaways are to always be grateful to our veterans. These guys sacrifice so much,” Kula said. “It’s so important that we recognize these people in our communities because it’s not difficult, especially now with social media… even if it’s just a 5-minute audio essay to thank them for everything they’ve given to myself and this country.”