2016 Student Video Contest


As you can imagine, participants can take this a million different directions. How have Americans changed the way they treat their nation’s military men and women? Why is it now important to separate the war from the warrior? Has America become more careful with their decision to enter war following 1975? How has media coverage of war changed?

VVMF encourages students to take a hard look at history, speak to a veteran, or ask someone who lived through the era. Find out what brought so many Americans to fight for social and political changes following Vietnam. This contest will allow students to see how one of the most divisive eras in US history led America to adapt, and reconcile differences to become a stronger nation.

One winner will receive a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., with a guardian, to participate in VVMF’s annual Memorial Day ceremony!

Congratulations to our 2016 Memorial Day Student Video Contest Winner Elise Lutz! 

Elise Lutz is a 12th grader from Millbrook High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. See her winning video below and on YouTube.

Below were the guidelines for this year’s contest.

Memorial Day Video Contest 2016

How did the Vietnam War change our country?

The United States changed in many ways as a result of the upheaval of the Vietnam War; ask those who lived through this period and they will share stories of a time when many fought for the changes they wished to see in America.

Eligibility: Submissions will be accepted by any students in grades 4 through 12 in the United States, United States territories, or military bases abroad.

Guidelines: A short video (5 minutes or less) describing what important social, political, or other changes you think were brought about through the United States’ participation in the Vietnam War.

Prize: The Grand Prize winner and one guardian will receive a 3-day trip to Washington DC (hotel and flight expenses covered*) to participate in the Memorial Day 2016 ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial, which is attended by thousands of people, as well as local and national media. Two runners up will receive a set of books on the Vietnam Memorial and Vietnam War signed by VVMF founder Jan Scruggs.  All three finalists will have their videos featured on the VVMF website & social media during the month of Memorial Day, with exposure to over 300,000 followers.

Past Years: The winner of the 2015 VVMF Memorial Day Student Video Contest was Sean Quinn, an 11th grader from Albany, New York. Sean’s video can be seen here:    https://youtu.be/URFuVEwbx6A

Deadline: Submit your video by April 22, 2016, 5 pm EST.

How to Submit: Email raw (mp4) video files to education@vvmf.org. Include in your email: Your full name, your grade level, your school, your home address, and your email address.

Judging: Videos will go through two rounds of judging. Videos will first be judged by a panel of Vietnam/history experts, including:

Mark Lawrence, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin
Lindy Poling, award-winning 35-year high school history teacher
Ron Milam, Associate Professor of Military History, Texas Tech University
John Prados, Senior Fellow, National Security Archive, George Washington University
Heather Paisley Jones, Education Specialist, National Museum of American History
Sean Quinn, winner of the 2015 VVMF Memorial Day Student Video Contest

The top 3 videos as selected by the panel of judges will then be put to a crowdsourced, public vote via VVMF’s social media. Finalists will be notified when the second round of judging will take place.

Criteria: Submissions will be judged on several factors:  quality of speech/writing; complexity of topics discussed; web presence; creativity.

*If the final winner resides within a 100 mile radius of Washington, DC, he or she will have nearby hotel expenses covered, and will participate in the Memorial Day ceremony.

From the 2014 Student Video Contest Winner, Bianca Oliveri:  

My name is Bianca Olivieri and I was the winner of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund documentary contest for “What Memorial Day Means To Me?”. My documentary was focused around the younger generation and how most perceive it to be a day off of school, a day to go to the beach, or even a day to enjoy sales. Before making my documentary, I never realized how many people either did not know what Memorial Day was or confused it with Veterans Day. The video did not only work to bring to light to others what we are losing in our nation, but it also brought me more self-awareness that we must be able to do more for our Veterans who are still with us and honoring those who sacrificed for us. 

As the winner I received a paid round-trip plane ticket for my mother and I, along with a paid hotel room for my stay on Memorial Day weekend. Confirming flights and setting up check ins with Reema was very effortless. The flight was enjoyable with no problems and the St. Gregory hotel was spectacular with amazing staff who worked hard to make the stay pleasant. This being my first time in Washington D.C., I wanted to see everything and go everywhere. One of the stops on the first day was at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Viewing it for the first time was emotional. There were so many names and so many people searching for their loved ones. It brought tears to me and my mother’s eyes. It was definitely a memorable memorial and I highly recommend anyone going to D.C. to take a stop at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The rest of our trip we walked everywhere and saw everything from the Arlington Cemetery to going to the Capitol building. Eating at The Tombs while visiting Georgetown University was one of my “foodie” highlights along with eating at the famous Bens Chili Bowl. All I would say is make sure to bring some comfortable shoes. On Memorial Day, I was fortunate to be a part of the ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial Wall sponsored by VVMF. Saying the pledge in front of all the amazing veterans and other viewers made me a bit nervous, but I went through with it and enjoyed the rest of the ceremony. The ceremony was heartwarming, touching, and a great event (that I also highly recommend for visitors). 

Overall my trip and stay through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was one of the most eye- opening experiences. It showed me the joys of Washington D.C., brought me in contact with some amazing people, and most of all I got to see how the Vietnam Memorial Wall affects people everyday. Thank you to all of the people who made this possible by supporting my documentary and to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund staff who made this arguably one of the greatest trips in my life.

Sincerely, Bianca Olivieri