Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Celebrate Veteran Stories by Preordering Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 12

Celebrate Veteran Stories by Preordering Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 12

By: Lisa Carrico, Program Director, Missouri Humanities

Missouri Humanities is pleased to announce this year’s winners of the annual anthology series, Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. Published in partnership with Southeast Missouri State University Press since Veterans Day 2012, the series has provided hundreds of veterans, military personnel, and their family members from across the nation a platform for self-expression through writing and photography.

Proud to Be is a juried contest, and features contributors from across the nation with submissions and winners in four categories: essay, poetry, fiction, and photography. Volume 12 is edited by Dr. James Brubaker, Assistant Professor and Director of University Press, with copyediting support from Dr. Susan Swartwout, Professor Emerita of English, founder, and retired publisher of Southeast Missouri State University Press.

This year’s foreword was written by Whitney Terrell, author of The Good Lieutenant, Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, former embedded reporter in Iraq during 2006 and 2010, and co-host of the Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast at Literary Hub. Through the lens of Terrell’s time as a journalist and an educator, his piece touches on the importance of preserving and sharing veteran stories as history, and as family records.

A very special thank you to the contributors who so graciously shared their stories and to the four judges who volunteered their time to read submissions.

Proud to Be, Volume 12 winners and judges are as follows:

Essay Winner: “What Is Caesar’s” by Anne Kniggendorf (Kansas)

Judge: Jerri Bell is retired naval officer, a writing instructor for the Veterans Writing Project, managing editor of the literary journal O-Dark-Thirty, and a working writer with a few short pieces published in journals and newspapers.

Fiction Winner: “Convergence” by Jillian Danback-McGahn (Maryland)

Judge: Spencer Fleury is the author of How I’m Spending My Afterlife (Woodhall Press, 2021) and I Blame Myself But Also You and other stories (Malarkey Books, 2024). He is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard (enlisted, naturally), and these days he lives and writes in San Francisco.


Poetry Winner: “Registering Voters for the First Bosnian Democratic Election, 1996” by Lisa Wence Connors (Colorado)

Judge: Eric Chandler is the author of Kekekabic (Finishing Line Press, 2022) and Hugging This Rock (Middle West Press, 2017). His writing has appeared in Northern Wilds, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Talking Stick, Sleet Magazine, O-Dark-Thirty, Line of Advance, Collateral, The Deadly Writers Patrol, PANK, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, Consequence Magazine, and Columbia Journal. Chandler was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014 for creative nonfiction and three-time winner of the Col. Darron L. Wright Award for poetry. His poem “Tar” won the Poetry category in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 11. Chandler is a US Air Force veteran of both the active duty and the Minnesota Air National Guard.


Photography Winner: “Cannons of Fort Marion (now renamed to Castillos de San Marcos), St. Augustine, Florida” by Willy Conley (Maryland)

Judge: Jason Gonulsen is a professional photographer who focuses on weddings, families, sporting events, and concerts, and has worked with artists including Chelsea Handler and Pearl Jam. He owns No Hidden Path Photography in St. Louis, Missouri.


Volume 12 is due out on November 11th! Preorder your copy by visiting:


Consider Donating to MOHumanities for the Holidays