Press Release

The National World War II Museum announces winners of essay and art contests focusing on diversity and WWII

Baton Rouge student wins top honors in nationwide contest

NEW ORLEANS (May 1, 2009) – When The National World War II Museum launched its 5th annual High School Essay Contest and its 3rd annual Middle School Art Contest in January, the focus was diversity.  Inspired by the special exhibit, Fighting For Democracy: Who is the “We” in “We the People”?, which is on display through May 17, the Museum asked students E Pluribus Unum: How Then / How Now? 

Students from 48 states submitted essays exploring how diversity helped the United States win World War II and continues to make the country vibrant and strong. The contest reached the maximum entry cap of 500 for the first time in its five-year history. The first place winner and recipient of a $1000 scholarship was Rachel Alexander of St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge, LA.

In her essay, Alexander talked about the minorities that served in WWII saying, “Their love for America and the ideals upon which the nation was built allowed them to look past the injustice and ignorance of society and, as Gandhi suggested, be the change they wished to see in their world. The ‘Fighting for Democracy’ exhibit reveals that the uniting factor of the ‘We’ in ‘We the People’ is not race, religion, or riches. The common thread among Americans is a goal of justice and equality and the fight for democracy.”

Second place winner David Bajjalieh of William Fremd High School in Palatine, IL was awarded $750. Third place and $500 went to Lucia Tang of Cedar Park High School in Cedar Park, TX.

Winners of the Middle School Art Contest include: Morgan Dunker of Joplin, MO (Fifth Grade winner); Ryan C. Scarborough of Jacksonville, FL (Sixth Grade winner); Jeremy Wood of Carol Stream, IL (Seventh Grade winner); and William Cormier of Sandy Springs, GA. Each student was awarded a $100 prize. The Museum received entries from 13 states in all mediums of art.

“We were impressed with the creativity, insights, and historical parallels that these students explored in their works, said Kenneth Hoffman, Museum Director of Education and one of the staff judges. “In the end, we rewarded entries that went beyond traditional depictions of WWII and showed how the history and lessons of WWII are still alive in our communities today.”

For more information on this annual contest, visit

Fighting for Democracy: Who is the “We” in “We, the People?” is presented in New Orleans by Chevron with additional support from the Eugenie & Joseph Jones Family Foundation.  The exhibition was created by the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, an educational program of the Japanese American National Museum, with major support provided by the U.S. Army Center for Military History. The traveling exhibition is made possible through the generous support of The Boeing Company and the U.S. Army Center for Military History.

The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today.  Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit