Shelton student wins VFW essay competition about veterans

A Shelton High School student won second place in an essay and audio presentation competition at VFW Post 308 in Newtown.

The entry by Keyur Shah, 14, focused on the lessons learned by U.S. soldiers from the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War in 1968, in which many innocent people were killed.

“I wanted to show how veterans could salvage some good from such a catastrophe,” Keyur wrote in his essay. He wrote that My Lai could be viewed as “a story of forgiveness, of rebuilding” because decades later, some of the participating U.S. soldiers pursued humanitarian efforts in the South Vietnamese village.

Keyur said he learned about the My Lai Massacre in his high school history class. “My teacher gave a real moving lecture on it,” he said.

For his winning entry, he was presented with a certificate and a monetary prize during a ceremony at the Newtown VFW post attended by Mayor Mark Lauretti and Erik Martire, a guidance counselor at SHS. “It was really nice that the mayor was there with my guidance counselor,” Keyur said.

Written and audio competition

The Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy competition by the Veterans of Foreign Wars involves a written essay and audio presentation. It is open to high school students seeking financial assistance to attend college.

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Click below to read Keyur Shah's winning essay:


The theme of this year’s essay was “Why veterans are important to our nation’s history and future.” Submissions were judged on originality, content, and delivery (speaking in a clear and credible manner).

The national winner in the VFW competition will receive a $30,000 college scholarship.

Wants to study law, computer science

Keyur said he liked entering the essay competition because it let him “gain experience on what it’s like to work as a lawyer and allowed me to learn about history.”

He hopes to study law or computer science in college. He has a particular interest in civics and constitutional issues, Keyur said, “and there are many youth opportunities in those fields in the form of essay and speech competitions.”

Keyur is the son of Ketan and Unnati Shah, who originally are from India.

He attended some grades at Mohegan School and then Shelton Intermediate before moving on to SHS. He advanced two extra grades when young, while living in New Haven.

“His parents and Shelton High School can be very proud of Keyur,” said Donna Randle of Newtown VFW Post 308. “His initiative speaks volumes for him. He shows lots of promise, and I am sure this young man will go far.”