Essay Contest

School Programs

2018 Student Essay Contest

In celebration of its newest special exhibit, So Ready For Laughter:  The Legacy of Bob Hope, The National WWII Museum is focusing its 2018 student essay contest on what the duty of art and artists should be during times of war and conflict.    

American entertainer Bob Hope began as an immigrant who came to the United States with his family as a young boy. By the start of World War II, Hope was just emerging as one of America’s most popular radio and film stars. When America went to war in 1941, Hope recognized the need for contributions and responded by entertaining troops, raising funds, and boosting morale. Hope later took his wartime programs on the road to military camps and bases across the country, and then around the world to wherever Americans were serving.  Speaking of his efforts, Hope humbly said “I was offering time and laughs — the men and women fighting the war were offering up their lives. They taught me what sacrifice was all about.”

So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope, tells the story of Hope’s unique place in the history of World War II and beyond, and the contributions he made that still reverberate more than 70 years later.  For its 2018 student essay contest, The National WWII Museum is asking middle school (grades 5 – 8) and high school students (grades 9 – 12) to consider Hope’s quote and to explain what you feel the role of art and artists should be during times of war and conflict.  

Please consider the above quote from Bob Hope from your point of view as a young person coming of age in the twenty-first century. What do you think the role of artists, entertainers or celebrities – both at home and abroad – should be during times of conflict?  Do artists, entertainers and celebrities have an obligation to use their platform and audience reach to support the men and women “offering up their lives?” Alternately, should art and artists remain uninvolved or politically neutral, their contributions of “time and laughs” being sufficient?  

Use events from American and WWII history as your starting point, but don’t stop in the past. Use specific examples from your own experiences and/or current events to support your ideas, beliefs and convictions on what you feel the role of art and artists should be today. This is NOT a research paper, and the best essays will NOT be summaries of the past 75 years of American history or popular culture. 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 all entries and select the winning essays.


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