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Virginia War Memorial Announces Winners of 2020 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest  

Virginia War Memorial 2020 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest winners congratulated by Governor Ralph Northam. (Left to right) Matthew Miscikowski, Governor Northam, Niamh Moreno

A middle schooler from Alexandria and a high school junior from Henrico County were the first place winners in the Virginia War Memorial’s 2020 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest. The winners were announced at the 64th Annual Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony held November 11 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond and livestreamed on social media.

The winner in the middle school category was Niamh Moreno, a 7th grader at The Basilica School of St. Mary in Alexandria. The topic of her essay was Luta May McGrath. Her teacher is Jacklin McKee.

The winner in the high school category was Matthew Miscikowski, an 11th grader at Deep Run High School in Henrico County.  His essay profiled his grandfather, Michael Troyanoski. Andrew Heare is his teacher.

The annual contest was open to middle and high school age students throughout Virginia in public or private schools or homeschooled. The essay topic was “An American Who Served in World War II Who Inspires Me.” Niamh and Matthew both received a $200 gift card and each of their teachers was presented with $100 gift card to purchase classroom and educational supplies.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who served as the keynote speaker at the 64th Annual Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony, personally congratulated both student essay contest winners at the Virginia War Memorial.

“We are so proud of our essay contest winners and all of the students that participated this year,” said Dr. Clay Mountcastle, Virginia War Memorial Director. “Education and preserving history for future generations are tenets of our mission here at the Virginia War Memorial.  These students show us, with their inspiring words, just how important that mission can be.  We look forward to always incorporating students into the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony.”

The winning essays are posted online on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation website: .

About the Virginia War Memorial

The mission of the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond is to Honor Veterans, Preserve History, Educate Youth and Inspire Patriotism in All.  Dedicated in 1956, the Memorial includes the names of the nearly 12,000 Virginia heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the Global War on Terrorism.  Located at 621 South Belvidere Street in Richmond, the Virginia War Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and serves as an integral part of its mission in support of all Virginians who have served in our military.  For more details, visit or

 About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia.  DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans.  Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs.  The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries.  It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit