• For Teachers & Students
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2015 HIGH SCHOOL ESSAY CONTEST:

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  • Iwo Jima Flag Raising
  • Ira Hayes NARA Photo
  • Iwo Jima Veterans Holding the Flag, AP Photo
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The National WWII Museum asks "How Do You Define a Hero?"

The flag-raising on Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945 is one of the most famous moments of WWII. The six men who helped to raise the flag are often referred to as heroes. Out of the six men who raised the flag that day, only three survived until the end of the war. One of the surviving men, Cpl. Ira Hayes (Pima) was repeatedly asked by admirers if he considered himself to be a hero as a result of his wartime actions. Hayes replied, "How could I feel like a hero when only five men in my platoon of 45 survived, when only 27 men in my company of 250 managed to escape death or injury." This year, as the world remembers the 70th anniversary of this iconic event, The National WWII Museum asks students to think about what it means to be a hero.

For your essay, please address the following question: How do you define a hero? In your response, use WWII as a starting point and base your essay in part on America’s involvement in WWII. But don’t stop in the past. Use specific examples from your own experiences that support your ideas. This is NOT a research paper. Your essay will be judged foremost for its originality, clarity of expression, and adherence to contest theme, as well as its historical accuracy, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Museum staff will read and evaluate entries.

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Awards

First place: $1,000
Second place: $750
Third place: $500

Winning essays will be posted on The National WWII Museum’s website, along with honorable mentions.

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Rules and Formatting Guidelines

  • Contest is open to all high school students in the United States, United States Territories, and military bases.
  • Your essay must be 1,000 words or less. Only one essay per student may be submitted.
  • All essays should:
    • be double spaced
    • have 1 inch margins
    • include page numbers
    • include an essay title
    • be typed in 12 point font
    • be in Microsoft Word-compatible format only. No zip files or Google documents are permitted.
  • Submissions must be submitted via the website by March 31, 2015, 5:00pm Central Time.
  • Museum will accept the first 500 properly formatted entries only. The website will indicate when 500 essays have been submitted.

Submit Now

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EDUCATION PROJECTS:

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Student Travel – WWII Educational Tours
High school and college students, learn the leadership principles that helped win WWII on a trip to France or during a weeklong residential program in New Orleans. College credit is available, and space is limited.

See You Next Year! HS Yearbooks from WWII
Collected from across the United States, the words and pictures of these yearbooks present a new opportunity to experience the many challenges, setbacks and triumphs of the war through the eyes of America’s youth.

The Victory Gardens of WWII
Visit the Classroom Victory Garden Project website to learn about food production during WWII, find lesson plans and activities for elementary students, get tips for starting your own garden and try out simple Victory Garden recipes!

The Science and Technology of WWII
Visit our new interactive website to learn about wartime technical and scientific advances that forever changed our world. Incorporates STEM principles to use in the classroom.

Kids Corner: Fun and Games!
Make your own propaganda posters, test your memory, solve puzzles and more! Learn about World War II and have fun at the same time.

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