Ansbach Student-Athlete Excels in National Contest on Democracy

By USAG Ansbach Public Affairs OfficeApril 19, 2024

Ansbach Student-Athlete Excels in National Contest on Democracy
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – ARLINGTON, Va. (March 4, 2024) VFW Auxiliary President Carla Martinez (left), Voice of Democracy VFW Department of Europe winner Meredith Maxwell (center), and VFW National Commander Duane Sarmiento (right) at the 2024 Voice of Democracy Parade of Winners ceremony. Maxwell, from Ansbach, Germany, was awarded the $2,000 Department of Connecticut and Auxiliary Scholarship. (Photo by VFW National Headquarters/Bob Knudsen) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL
Ansbach Student-Athlete Excels in National Contest on Democracy
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – MOUNT VERNON, Va. (March 3, 2024) - Voice of Democracy VFW Department of Europe winner Meredith Maxwell stands in front of President George Washington’s Mount Vernon home in Fairfax County, Virginia. Maxwell, from Ansbach, Germany, was awarded all all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. to tour our nation’s capital and other significant historical landmarks. (Courtesy photo by Deanna Maxwell) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

ANSBACH, Germany (April 19, 2024) - Ansbach Middle High School junior, Meredith Maxwell, was recently presented with a Veterans of Foreign Wars National Merit scholarship as a finalist in the Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest.

The Voice of Democracy audio-essay program, established in 1947, encourages high school students to express their thoughts on patriotic themes through recorded essays. This year's theme: "What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?"

Knowing the importance and weight of this subject, Maxwell was thoughtful in her strategy in the composition of her winning audio essay.

“Before sitting down to write, I listened to a few of the audio-essays from past winners. I noticed most applicants try to tell a story and connect it to their experiences," explained Maxwell. "Instead, I took a different approach and listed the greatest attributes of our Democracy, one by one. I kept it simple. I believe keeping things simple helps others connect to your ideas.”

Over 23,000 students participated in this year's program, vying for more than $1.3 million in educational scholarships and incentives, so to have a winner from the small Army garrison in the Middle Franconia region of Germany is a big deal.

After learning of her selection to compete as a national finalist, Maxwell expressed her excitement, highlighting the unexpected opportunity to visit the nation's capital in early March to represent the Department of Europe after winning at her local Post in Ansbach and the regional District competitions.

“I can’t begin to describe how excited I was when our VFW European Commander, Mark Primmer, called to tell me I had won the European State competition," said Maxwell. "I knew there was scholarship money attached to the contest, but I had no clue there was a trip to our nation’s capital as well."

The five-day trip included visits to significant landmarks such as the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, culminating in an awards ceremony in Arlington, Virginia, where Ms. Maxwell, who placed 14th amongst the 54 finalists, was presented with a $2,000 Department of Connecticut and Auxiliary Scholarship by VFW Auxiliary National President, Carla Martinez, and VFW Commander in Chief, Duane Sarmiento.

As a National Finalist, Maxwell will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Freedoms Foundation Valley Forge’s Spirit of America Youth Leadership Program in Pennsylvania this summer. During the program, she will have the chance to engage in a variety of leadership workshops, attend a series of lectures and group discussions on the topics of democracy, citizenship, the American Constitution, and current events as well as tour important historical sites in Philadelphia such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Congress Hall.

Maxwell's achievements extend beyond academics - she led the Ansbach Cougars to victory in the DoDEA Division II/III European Tennis Championship in 2021 and also won this year's Units Overseas Daughter’s of the American Revolution (DAR) "Patriots of the American Revolution" High School essay contest. Her essay on Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, an important historical military figure at USAG Ansbach, will be judged at the National level for a chance to earn a DAR scholarship.

When asked about her overall feelings on the essay contest experience, Maxwell stated, “It was wonderful meeting the other state winners who come from different areas of the country and who have diverse cultural backgrounds. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. No matter what happened, I was just grateful to represent my family, High School, and the Ansbach community.”


The U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach military community is located in the Franconian region of Bavaria and is spread across six sites and nine kasernes dispersed around the city of Ansbach and the village of Illesheim. Today, Ansbach is home to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, the community's largest tenant unit, as well as the 7th Engineer Brigade, 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 57th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. The garrison takes pride in supporting more than 12,000 Soldiers, civilians, family members, and retirees working and living in the Ansbach area.

For more news from U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, visit: or