A home-schooled junior from Morgantown, Ind., capped a busy weekend of competition in Indianapolis by earning an $18,000 college scholarship and first place in The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – "A Constitutional Speech Contest." Her winning oration was titled "Maintaining Liberty: The People's Call."
Rebecca Frazer started the weekend as one of 52 state or territorial champions in the 75th annual contest. She advanced to the championship through three rounds of intense competition.
Charles K. Baines, a high school senior from Meridian, Idaho, earned a $16,000 college scholarship with a second place finish, while John Donaldson IV of Eden Prairie, Minn., earned a $14,000 scholarship and finished third. The scholarships account for a small portion of the more than $3 million in post-secondary scholarships that The American Legion, the nation's largest veterans organization, awards annually.
In her prepared oration, Frazer said "Every great creation requires great effort to maintain –including our nation's powerful founding document – the United States Constitution. Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘The Constitution ... must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.' But President Lincoln was not speaking of the original paper Constitution – he was praising the very words and mandates of our Constitution. Together, we can understand the full importance of Lincoln's charge by first viewing the Constitution's beautiful power and by second seeing the necessity of maintaining this great founding document."
She mentioned that the Constitution was improved through its amendments. "The simplicity and limited scope of the Constitution showed the world that the strength of a nation is not defined by the power of its government, but by the freedom of its people. The Constitution built our government from the roots up. By itself, the document is not perfect, but it gave the people the ability to make their government perfect."
In each round of the weekend competition, orators delivered a rehearsed 8- to 10-minute address and a randomly assigned 3- to 5-minute oration on a constitutional topic, each without the benefit of notes and in front of a live audience, including the judges. The 2.4-million member American Legion developed the contest to encourage young people to improve their communications skills and to study the U.S. Constitution.
Media Contacts: Joe March (317) 748-1926 or John Raughter (317) 441-8847.