2024 National Oratorical winner from Washington state

Aubrey Moore of Renton, Wash., won The American Legion’s 85th National Oratorical Contest, “A Constitutional Speech Contest,” and a $25,000 scholarship on Sunday, May 19, in Hillsdale, Mich.

Before walking on stage inside an auditorium on the campus of Hillsdale College to give her prepared oration before family, judges, Legionnaires and the other 49 participants, Moore calmed her nerves by dancing and singing as she was the first of the top three finalists to speak. Then the homeschooled sophomore reminded herself that “this is the last time I’m going to do this speech so might as well make it a good one,” she said following her win, which feels “amazing. I feel really happy and really excited and also just kind of surprised that I was able to make it this far and be able to compete so well.”

Second-place and a $22,500 scholarship was awarded to Knox Boyd of Lafayette, Ind. Third place and a $20,000 scholarship was awarded to David Daniel of Owensboro, Ky.

Click here to watch the prepared orations and assigned topic speeches from Moore, Boyd and Daniel.

In her winning oration, titled “Why Freedom of Speech is in Danger,” Moore shared that, “Throughout American history, all kinds of opinions, thoughts, and beliefs have been voiced no matter the sentiment, because whether or not you approve or hate what I say, you must support my right to say it. This is the power of free speech. And yet in recent years, we have seen a pushback on this fundamental right.

“Our neighbors, our friends, and our communities are gradually supporting the decision to ban hate speech, but what our country does not realize is the implication of that decision. A ban on hate speech leads to a ban on all speech. This is why the Constitution must vow to protect it. Noam Chomsky, a renowned intellectual and political activist, once said, ‘If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.’ So I encourage you, the next time you hear someone say something that makes you grind your teeth, see a post you hate, or read an opinion piece you disagree with, to remember to appreciate the fact that the Constitution protects your power to speak, no matter what you speak about.”

With this being Moore’s first American Legion oratorical contest, she learned in the research process that you have to write “something that your passionate about. It never works when you try to twist things just to please the audience. People can tell when you’re passionate about something, and you want to convey that message I think for me that’s what made my speech so successful because I love what I was saying, and I wanted other people to love it too.”

Moore, who was sponsored by American Legion Post 186, was nervous to compete in the oratorial contest starting at the post level but is thankful she put herself out there and tried.

“This win means I can do anything that I apply myself for and apply myself to,” she said. “This has taught me the lesson that you have to try new things even if you are uncomfortable with it and if you apply yourself, you can reap the rewards.”

The opportunity to try something new gave Moore greater insight into the U.S. Constitution and an appreciation for the document, along with an opportunity to be around like-minded high school students.

The American Legion’s oratorical contest “has instilled in me a greater appreciation for our country,” she said. “And seeing everybody here in this environment that everybody cares very deeply about America, it’s history and what it’s going to be in the future. Being here and seeing all these people come together to celebrate American values, at least for me, has made me feel very patriotic.

“It’s taught me a lot about our nation’s document, it’s taught me about America and what our Founding Fathers did. It’s given me a greater appreciation for it. And I appreciate all the people I have met, even from my own state. Meeting these people and having this experience is something everybody should do.”