Past Is Prologue

How is the past relevant to you? Learn and win!

The Past is Prologue Essay Contest invites students ages 11-12, 13-15, and 16-18 to compete within their age group to write an essay about an event associated with those who fought, died and are buried or memorialized at an American military cemetery overseas managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Application Form download contest details I’m interested!

Participants

Each student must have an adult editor. This person may be a parent, teacher, young adult sibling or other adult. The role of the adult is to help steer research activities, support the development of the essay theme, check grammar, spelling, and punctuation and to facilitate a conversation to answer two questions that must be addressed in the essay:

  • What lessons from this specific event are useful for us today?  

  • How would your life and future be different if Americans had not fought and died during this operation?

The adult editor must certify that the essay was written by the student.

Participants

Each student must have an adult editor. This person may be a parent, teacher, young adult sibling or other adult. The role of the adult is to help steer research activities, support the development of the essay theme, check grammar, spelling, and punctuation and to facilitate a conversation to answer two questions that must be addressed in the essay:

  • What lessons from this specific past battle are instructive for us today?  

  • How would your life be different if Americans had not fought and died, i.e., what is the relevance of those who fought and died to your life and future?

The adult editor must certify that the essay was written by the student.

Participants

Each student must have an adult editor. This person may be a parent, teacher, young adult sibling or other adult. The role of the adult is to help steer research activities, support the development of the essay theme, check grammar, spelling, and punctuation and to facilitate a conversation to answer two questions that must be addressed in the essay:

  • What lessons from this specific past battle are instructive for us today?  

  • How would your life be different if Americans had not fought and died, i.e., what is the relevance of those who fought and died to your life and future?

The adult editor must certify that the essay was written by the student.

For the contests in 2023, students may choose to write about one of these two topics:

Application Form download contest details I’m interested!

1

Operation Husky

The July 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily was a pre-dawn, immense airborne, and amphibious assault that began the successful liberation of Italy. The Allies’ use of deceptive tactics led the Germans to believe the invasion would take place elsewhere. Operation Husky had a significant impact on the future of Italy’s Fascist leader and Hitler ally, Benito Mussolini. The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Italy honors 7,845 American military war dead who fought for the liberation of Italy.

2

Life Under Nazi Occupation in the Netherlands and the Cost of Liberation

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, a neutral country, in 1940 to control Dutch airfields from which to launch attacks on the United Kingdom. The Nazi’s initial “velvet glove” approach quickly ended, leading to brutal and punitive oppression, made worse by forced labor, starvation, and lack of fuel. The Netherlands had the highest per-capita death rate of all Nazi-occupied countries in Western Europe. More than half were Holocaust victims. Their liberation gained steam after the 1944 D-Day invasions. At the Netherlands American Military Cemetery, 8,288 American service members are buried; another 1,722 are memorialized as Missing in Action.

For the contests in 2022, students may choose to write about one of these three topics:

Application Form I’m interested! download contest details

1

Operation Husky

The July 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily was a pre-dawn, immense airborne, and amphibious assault that began the successful liberation of Italy. The Allies’ use of deceptive tactics led the Germans to believe the invasion would take place elsewhere. Operation Husky had a significant impact on the future of Italy’s Fascist leader and Hitler ally, Benito Mussolini. The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Italy honors 7,845 American military war dead who fought for the liberation of Italy.

2

Life Under Nazi Occupation in the Netherlands and the Cost of Liberation

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, a neutral country, in 1940 to control Dutch airfields from which to launch attacks on the United Kingdom. The Nazi’s initial “velvet glove” approach quickly ended, leading to brutal and punitive oppression, made worse by forced labor, starvation, and lack of fuel. The Netherlands had the highest per-capita death rate of all Nazi-occupied countries in Western Europe. More than half were Holocaust victims. Their liberation gained steam after the 1944 D-Day invasions. At the Netherlands American Military Cemetery, 8,288 American service members are buried; another 1,722 are memorialized as Missing in Action.

For the contests in 2023, students may choose to write about one of these two topics:

Application Form download contest details I’m interested!

1

Operation Husky

The July 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily was a pre-dawn, immense airborne, and amphibious assault that began the successful liberation of Italy. The Allies’ use of deceptive tactics led the Germans to believe the invasion would take place elsewhere. Operation Husky had a significant impact on the future of Italy’s Fascist leader and Hitler ally, Benito Mussolini. The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Italy honors 7,845 American military war dead who fought for the liberation of Italy.

2

Life Under Nazi Occupation in the Netherlands and the Cost of Liberation

Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, a neutral country, in 1940 to control Dutch airfields from which to launch attacks on the United Kingdom. The Nazi’s initial “velvet glove” approach quickly ended, leading to brutal and punitive oppression, made worse by forced labor, starvation, and lack of fuel. The Netherlands had the highest per-capita death rate of all Nazi-occupied countries in Western Europe. More than half were Holocaust victims. Their liberation gained steam after the 1944 D-Day invasions. At the Netherlands American Military Cemetery, 8,288 American service members are buried; another 1,722 are memorialized as Missing in Action.

Composition Details

Each essay must be written in English. If English is not the first language of the student, that should be noted on the application form.  Applications and Essays must be submitted online at [email protected]

Essays must be:

  • Typed, Double Spaced, 1 inch margins
  • Font, Size: Times New Roman, 12 pt.
  • Save and send as a PDF
  • Include your name and state on the first page only of your essay

Minimum & maximum word-count

  • Students ages 11-12:    800 – 1,000 words
  • Students ages 13-15: 1,200 – 1,500 words
  • Students ages 16-18: 1,500 – 1,800 words

References are not included in word count.

Quoted material should be used sparingly and must include a citation of author, publication and date.

*The use of Artificial Intelligence sources such as ChatGPT is prohibited. Essays written with the help of AI bots will be disqualified.

Each essay must be written in English. If English is not the first language of the student, that should be noted on the application form.  Applications and Essays must be submitted online at [email protected]

Essays must be:

  • Typed, Double Spaced, 1inch margins
  • Font, Size: Times New Roman, 12 pt.
  • Save and send as a PDF
  • Include your name and state on the first page only of your essay

Minimum & maximum word-count

  • Students ages 11-12:    800 – 1,000 words
  • Students ages 13-15: 1,200 – 1,500 words
  • Students ages 16-18: 1,500 – 1,800 words

References are not included in word count.

Quoted material should be used sparingly and must include a citation of author, publication and date.

*The use of Artificial Intelligence sources such as ChatGPT is prohibited. Essays written with the help of AI bots will be disqualified.

Each essay must be written in English. If English is not the first language of the student, that should be noted on the application form.  Applications and Essays must be submitted online at [email protected]

Essays must be:

  • Typed, Double Spaced, 1inch margins
  • Font, Size: Times New Roman, 12 pt.
  • Save and send as a PDF
  • Include your name and state on the first page only of your essay

Minimum & maximum word-count

  • Students ages 11-12:    800 – 1,000 words
  • Students ages 13-15: 1,200 – 1,500 words
  • Students ages 16-18: 1,500 – 1,800 words

References are not included in word count.

Quoted material should be used sparingly and must include a citation of author, publication and date.

*The use of Artificial Intelligence sources such as ChatGPT is prohibited. Essays written with the help of AI bots will be disqualified.

Judging Criteria

Judges

Qualified judges will review the essays and recommend four semi-finalists in each age group. These essays will be reviewed by a committee appointed by the ABMF Board of Directors, who will select the First, Second and Third place winners in each age group. Judges and the Review Committee will not see the student’s name but will only see an alphanumeric identifier for each essay submission. The decision of the Essay Review Committee is final.

*The use of Artificial Intelligence sources such as ChatGPT is prohibited. Essays written with the help of AI bots will be disqualified.

  • Accuracy of historical events. Include relevant facts such as who, what, when, where, why, and how. Document your source material at the end of the essay.   References are not included in the minimum and maximum word count for the essay.
  • Composition and writing style.  Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are expected.
  • Originality.  Essay submission should show imagination while not straying from the facts, and be of human interest.
  • Two mandatory questions. There are no right or wrong responses, but they must be answered from the student’s perspective.

Research Materials

An additional resource is the American Battle Monuments Commission www.abmc.gov.  

Wikipedia may be a starting point for general information about the topics, but it is not to be considered authoritative and should not be included in your reference list.

Research Materials

An additional resource is the American Battle Monuments Commission www.abmc.gov.  

Wikipedia may be a starting point for general information about the topics, but it is not to be considered authoritative and should not be included in your reference list.

Research Materials

An additional resource is the American Battle Monuments Commission www.abmc.gov.  

Wikipedia may be a starting point for general information about the topics, but it is not to be considered authoritative and should not be included in your reference list.

2023 Essay Contest Deadline

SPRING CONTEST

Submit your essay no later than midnight (MDT) May 31, 2023.

Winners announced by October 2, 2023.

Prizes

Prizes will be awarded for First, Second, and Third place in each age group. First Prize for 13-15
and 16-18 age groups is $10,000; Second Prize is $5,000; Third Prize is $2,500. Prize money for
11-12 age group is First prize $5,000, Second Prize is $2,500, Third Prize is $1,500. Winners
will be notified via a telephone call to the parent/guardian with an email and hard copy letter sent via USPS.

All winning essays become the property of the American Battle Monuments Foundation and
may, at the discretion of the Foundation, be published on the ABMF website and promoted
through its social media channels. Any additional use of a minor winner’s name or image is done
so with the parental signature on the ABMF Past is Prologue Essay Contest Application.

Please submit your intention to participate at [email protected].

Prizes

Prizes will be awarded for First, Second, and Third place in each age group. First Prize for 13-15
and 16-18 age groups is $10,000; Second Prize is $5,000; Third Prize is $2,500. Prize money for
11-12 age group is First prize $5,000, Second Prize is $2,500, Third Prize is $1,500. Winners
will be notified via a telephone call to the parent/guardian with an email and hard copy letter sent via USPS.

All winning essays become the property of the American Battle Monuments Foundation and
may, at the discretion of the Foundation, be published on the ABMF website and promoted
through its social media channels. Any additional use of a minor winner’s name or image is done
so with the parental signature on the ABMF Past is Prologue Essay Contest Application.

Please submit your intention to participate at [email protected].

Download the Essay Contest Application

Prizes

Prizes will be awarded for First, Second, and Third place in each age group. First Prize for 13-15
and 16-18 age groups is $10,000; Second Prize is $5,000; Third Prize is $2,500. Prize money for
11-12 age group is First prize $5,000, Second Prize is $2,500, Third Prize is $1,500. Winners
will be notified via a telephone call to the parent/guardian with an email and hard copy letter sent via USPS.

All winning essays become the property of the American Battle Monuments Foundation and
may, at the discretion of the Foundation, be published on the ABMF website and promoted
through its social media channels. Any additional use of a minor winner’s name or image is done
so with the parental signature on the ABMF Past is Prologue Essay Contest Application.

Please submit your intention to participate at [email protected].

Past Winners

11-12 Age Group

1st Prize: Ava Busse – Gahanna, Ohio
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

2nd Prize: Elizabeth Parnell – Thomson, Georgia
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Blaise Goodwin – Arlington, Washington
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Anne P. – New York, New York
Topic: Lafayette Escadrille

13-15 Age Group

1st Prize: Zoe Leung – Saint-Germaine-en-Laye, France
Topic: Operation Dragoon

2nd Prize: Jackson Westbrook – Graniteville, SC
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Thomas W. – Wesley Chapel, Florida
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Madison R. – Midlothian, Virginia
Topic: Lafayette Escadrille

16-18 Age Group

1st Prize: Trenton James McMillen. – Suffolk, Virginia
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

2nd Prize: Patrick Denham – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Jack Staggers – Fort Collins, Colorado
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Margaux H. – Saint-Germaine-en-Laye, France
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Past Winners

11-12 Age Group

1st Prize: Ava Busse – Gahanna, Ohio
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

2nd Prize: Elizabeth Parnell – Thomson, Georgia
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Blaise Goodwin – Arlington, Washington
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Anne P. – New York, New York
Topic: Lafayette Escadrille

13-15 Age Group

1st Prize: Zoe Leung – Saint-Germaine-en-Laye, France
Topic: Operation Dragoon

2nd Prize: Jackson Westbrook – Graniteville, SC
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Thomas W. – Wesley Chapel, Florida
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Madison R. – Midlothian, Virginia
Topic: Lafayette Escadrille

16-18 Age Group

1st Prize: Trenton James McMillen. – Suffolk, Virginia
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

2nd Prize: Patrick Denham – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Jack Staggers – Fort Collins, Colorado
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Margaux H. – Saint-Germaine-en-Laye, France
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Past Winners

11-12 Age Group

1st Prize: Ava Busse – Gahanna, Ohio
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

2nd Prize: Elizabeth Parnell – Thomson, Georgia
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Blaise Goodwin – Arlington, Washington
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Anne P. – New York, New York
Topic: Lafayette Escadrille

13-15 Age Group

1st Prize: Zoe Leung – Saint-Germaine-en-Laye, France
Topic: Operation Dragoon

2nd Prize: Jackson Westbrook – Graniteville, SC
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Thomas W. – Wesley Chapel, Florida
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Madison R. – Midlothian, Virginia
Topic: Lafayette Escadrille

16-18 Age Group

1st Prize: Trenton James McMillen. – Suffolk, Virginia
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

2nd Prize: Patrick Denham – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Topic: Battle of Guadalcanal

3rd Prize: Jack Staggers – Fort Collins, Colorado
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Honorable Mention: Margaux H. – Saint-Germaine-en-Laye, France
Topic: Operation Dragoon

Sponsors

The American Battle Monuments Foundation Past is Prologue Essay Contest is made possible, in part, through the generosity or our sponsors.

Sponsors

The American Battle Monuments Foundation Past is Prologue Essay Contest is made possible, in part, through the generousity or our sponsors.

Sponsors

The American Battle Monuments Foundation Past is Prologue Essay Contest is made possible, in part, through the generousity or our sponsors.