The military is one of the cornerstones of America. Honoring the military is something that unites all of us, especially if we know of someone or have personally served in the military ourselves. One singer-songwriter is looking to honor the military in an enormous way: with a contest where the top prize is a trip to Washington D.C.

Stokes Nielson is holding a contest called "Strength of America," named after the song of the same name, which he wrote. Performed by Alyssa Shouse, the song honors the Military Women's Memorial at Arlington Cemetery. Too often do the sacrifices of women in the military go unnoticed by the public. Nielson and Shouse hope to bring attention to them as well as the beautiful memorial in their honor, located in one of the United States' most significant cemeteries.

The contest itself revolves around covering Shouse and Nielson's song, "Strength of America." Participants are encouraged to email in order to hear the song and get the full rules of the contest. People are encouraged to put their own spin on "Strength of America."

The top prize? A trip to Washington D.C. in the summer of 2023 where they can see the Military Women's Memorial and enjoy a long weekend in the nation's capital!

Those whose talents are more in the writing department can still participate! An essay of less than 500 words regarding one's feelings on the song and its message can be emailed to for a chance to win the trip to D.C.

Singer-songwriter Stokes Nielson. Photo Credit: Aisha Shehu Kaikai
Singer-songwriter Stokes Nielson. Photo Credit: Aisha Shehu Kaikai

Nielson was kind enough to join me on the phone for an interview regarding the contest and all that the military means to him. Nielson comes from a long-line of family members who have served, so his personal connection to the song and its story is anything but small:

I grew up on a [....] military base in Georgia. My father was based there as an army physician, so, for me, the military has always been near and dear to my heart. Pretty much every generation of the Stokes family back to the American Revolution served in our military, and I must tell you, as a musician and an artist, I always felt a little guilty that I never enlisted. So, I've always had this "want" to do something more for our armed forces...

Nielson adds that being contacted by the Military Women's Memorial staff and proceeding forward with this contest has not only meant the world to him. It added incredible value to his life. With this being the 25th anniversary of the memorial, this contest couldn't come at a better time.

Once more, if you are interested in hearing the song, participating in the contest, or simply finding out more about it, email You can also take a listen to my interview with Stokes Nielson below! You can find Nielson on Instagram, and read more about the Military Women's Memorial on their official website.

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