Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Honoring America's Veteran Entrepreneurs" Youth Essay Contest

If I weren't to old to enter the 2007 "Honoring America's Veteran Entrepreneurs" Youth Essay Contest, I'd be stuck between a rock and a hard place, the devil and the deep blue sea. The difficulty would be choosing one of three compelling subjects. (More about them, below)

The contest is sponsored by The Veterans Corporation ("Where Veteran Entrepreneurs Partner For Success") in partnership with the Veterans Business Journal (tagline: "Entrepreneurship, Contracting and Patriotism") and ("All the Benefits of Service"). The contest is part of Entrepreneurship Week 2007, which is presented by the ("The Daily Resource For Entrepreneurs") and The New York Times ("21st Century News, Information, Entertainment").

This is the assignment: "Tell us why your parent or grandparent should be honored as Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year, and you could win a free trip to Washington, D.C." More specifically:

Write an original essay telling us why your parent or grandparent, who is a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces or a member of the National Guard or Reserve, and who is also an entrepreneur or business owner, should be named "Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year".

Essays should answer the following questions:

  • What skills or training did your parent or grandparent receive in the military that made him or her a better entrepreneur?
  • How does your parent or grandparent contribute to your family, your local community, and the nation as a Veteran and entrepreneur?
  • Do you have any aspirations to following in the footsteps of your parent or grandparent in the military or as an entrepreneur?
Here's why picking a protagonist would be hard. My paternal grandfather was a U.S. Navy veteran. He migrated from the deep south to New York, where he established a successful commercial limousine service and profitable rental properties. My father was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served during the Korean War and later worked as an aircraft electrician. One of his responsibilities was supervising the aeronautical electricians who serviced Air Force One, in which he installed bottle warmers as a favor for Jackie Kennedy. During layoffs at Lockheed and after retiring, Dad engaged in several entrepreneurial ventures. My stepfather is a formal Naval officer who is now a law firm partner. All three are great role models with compelling tales that are worth telling.

Decisions, decisions. If they were mine to make, I'd write about my stepfather this year, since he's still living and might appreciate the testimonial. In 2008 and 2009, respectively, I would feature my father and grandfather. In all three years, I would also submit my essays (whether they won or not), to the Veterans History Project.

Since I'm over 18, I leave it to my nephews and other kids who meet the contest eligibility requirements to choose a hero to write about. These are the rules:

Eligibility: all United States students, ages 12-18, are eligible to compete.

Requirements: Essays should be no longer than 1,000 words and must be postmarked or emailed no later than February 16, 2007. Essays must be accompanied by a completed contest entry form, which can be downloaded [at the Essay Contest Home].

If you enter, good luck! And send me your story. As my firm, 360 MERIDIAN, LLC, is a Veterans History Project Official Partner, I may select your story to share on air or online. You can access my contact information and learn about my media work here.