Brianna Busch

Bellevue HIGH SCHOOL senior Brianna Busch was given a surprise reception at the Great River Gallery last week by members of the Maquoketa VFW and Iowa VFW as she won the state Voice of Democracy competition. She will travel to Washington D.C. to participate in the Voice of Democracy Nationals, held Feb. 29 through March 4. Presenting her with a check for $1,500 for winning the State contest is Brad Whitmore, VFW National Legislative Chair.

Brianna Busch, a senior at Bellevue High School, was named the VFW Department of Iowa’s first-place winner and recipient of the $1,500 award in the 2020 Voice of Democracy Scholarship program last week.

VFW Post O’Connor-Regenwether 3633 and its Auxiliary from Maquoketa, sponsored Busch when she entered the contest.

“The Voice of Democracy competition provides high school students with the opportunity to speak out on freedom and democracy,” said VFW Department Commander Russ Saffell. “The program has been popular and successful since its beginning in 1947, and we’re proud to keep offering it to America’s young people.”

The Voice of Democracy is a worldwide audio-essay competition that requires entrants to write and record a three-to-five minute essay on a patriotic-based theme.

“What makes America Great” was this year’s theme.

Brianna also won the Post competition at VFW Post O’Conner-Regenwether 3633 in Maquoketa as well as the VFW 2nd District.  

As one of 53 finalists worldwide, Brianna will travel to Washington, D.C., and compete at the national level for the first-place prize of a $30,000 college scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) started the Voice of Democracy Scholarship program in 1947. The VFW became a national sponsor in the late 1950s and assumed sole responsibility for the program in 1961. The competition was created to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regard to democratic ideas and principles. Around 40,000 students participate in the competition each year and VFW awards more than $2.1 million in scholarships every year.

Brianna’s speech, based on the VFW’s 2019-2020 theme “What Makes America Great,” afforded her the opportunity to win the local, district and state competition and earn a spot to represent Iowa at the 2020 Voice of Democracy Nationals which will take place February 29 through March 4.   

All National Voice of Democracy Scholarship winners will be announced at the “Parade of Winners” being held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Arlington (Crystal City), Virginia on Monday evening, March 2, 2020.  

The first place national winner (announced that evening) will personally deliver their essay at the conclusion of that event.  It will be live-streamed and available on demand at starting at 6 p.m. that evening.

About the VFW:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation's largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally-chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces.