Americanism Pillar: Oratorical Contest and 5th Grade Flag Essay Contest

7th District, we need better participation from your Posts. Please visit your local schools and promote the Oratorical Contest and 5th Grade Essay Contest! This is a great way for Posts interface with the community and promote a Pillar of the American Legion: Americanism! The importance of Americanism has very deep roots in the fabric of The American Legion. The following excerpt is taken from Jeff Stoffer’s January 22, 2019 article on The American Legion website. (Read the full article here).

“Historical context is vital to understand how Americanism urgently arose as a pillar of what would become the nation’s largest veterans organization. The American Legion founders, the core of whom were front-line officers in World War I, had emerged from the all-volunteer pre-war Preparedness Movement with firsthand concern about the prospect of combat with limited resources, weapons, training and supplies. After the armistice, [Legionnaires] added another ingredient to their concerns: public understanding and appreciation of the American identity. 

Only about half of America’s teenagers attended high school regularly at the time. A large percentage of World War I troops were conscripted immigrants, some of whom had barely begun to learn English as a second language, which caused communications breakdowns in the service. Most were under-educated in U.S. government, law and history. Few understood what the U.S. flag represents or how American “justice, freedom and democracy” are defined when compared to other nations.

And, to the disgust of those who marched off to the Great War in Europe, thousands of otherwise military-eligible adult immigrants had used their foreign citizenship to avoid service, no matter how long they had lived in the United States. The early Legionnaires had a term for them: “alien slackers.” To address this issue, the early American Legion set U.S.
citizenship among immigrants as a top priority.

Oratorical Contest 2019

Today, we have many of the same concerns and support Americanism programs targeting America’s youth in many ways. The purpose of The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program is to develop a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the Constitution of the United States among high school students. Other objectives of the contest include the development of leadership qualities, the ability to think and speak clearly and intelligently, and the preparation for acceptance of the duties and responsibilities, rights, and privileges of American citizenship.

This past April, high school junior, Patrick Junker of Waukee, Iowa, won an $18,000 scholarship and The American Legion’s 82nd annual National Oratorical Contest! Yes. IOWA! Patrick Junker, sponsored by Post 403, emerged in the National Oratorical Contest from a competitive field of 52 other high school orators who won their respective American Legion Department Oratorical Contests. Throughout the weekend’s competition, the contestants presented a rehearsed 8-10-minute oration on an aspect of the Constitution in front of judges, as well as a 3-5-minute speech on an assigned topic discourse — a phase of the Constitution selected from its Articles and Sections.

Patrick Junker was one of three finalists to advance through semifinals on Saturday to stand on a stage at the Wyndham Hotel in Indianapolis for the finals competition. Once results were finalized, National Commander Brett Reistad and Americanism Commission Chairman Richard Anderson presented the awards to the three orators. Second-place finish and a $16,000 scholarship was awarded to Caleb Maue of Homer Glen, Ill., a home-schooled junior who was sponsored by Post 1080; and third-place finish and a $14,000 scholarship was awarded to Eden Carnes of Friendsville, Tenn., a freshman at The Disco Institute who was sponsored by Post 70. (Learn more HERE). (Resources).

Fifth Grade Essay Contest 2019

The purpose of The American Legion of Iowa 5th Grade Essay contest is to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the United States Flag on the part of elementary level students. Other objectives of the contest include the ability to gain knowledge of flag etiquette and respect for the flag. Each year the three winners from across the state, present their own essays at Summer Convention and receive cash prizes. (Cutest thing ever!).

Winners and the Essays

First Place: Sherry Tang – Bettendorf, Iowa – Le Claire Post #347

What the Flag Means to Me

When I look at the flag, I see hope. The hope that I held in my hands as I flew to this great nation. When I arrived from my old home, China, I was afraid. But the flag that I saw as I arrived made me feel better. I watched the flag sway back and forth, the stripes and stars shining at me. It made me feel many emotions, but most of all, happy.

When I look at the flag, I see freedom. The freedom that people of all races can sit in one classroom united as a whole. That no matter your appearance, you are created equal. The freedom to follow your dreams and hpes. For it doesn’t matter what’s in the outside, but the inside that matters.

When I look at the flag, I see the red white and blue. The red stripes respresenting hardiness and courage. The white stars ands tripes representing purity and innocence. And the blue representing vigilance. I see the stars shining at me. The 50 stars representing 50 states united as 1 whole.

When I look at the flag, I see bravery. Bravery to do something that has never been done before. Like how Rosa Parks didn’t leave that seat. How her simple act of bravery would soon make african americans equal to everyone else. How a little act of bravery can leave a huge Impact.

When I look at the flag, I see astornauts putting this symbol of freedom, hope, love, courage, and bravery on the moon. I see the colonists waving this majestic flag in parades celebrating their independence. And then, I see myself writing about this flag that has changed so many American lives.

Second Place: Kloey Rine – Shenandoah, Iowa – Shenandoah Post #88 7th DISTRICT WINNER!

What the Flag Means to Me

To me, the flag means a lot of things. Like freedom, and the courage of those who defended, protected, and fought for the beautify flag of the United States of America. So many people gave the ultimate price for that flag. They gave their life. Some people don’t respect the flag like they should. Have you ever turned on the tv and saw a sports player kneeling during the national anthem? I just hate that!!

These are some things I learned, and their very important! The flag is not just a piece of fabric, it’s a symbol of you and your country. When a flag gets old, don’t throw it away! There is a special ceremony where they burn the flag. It is called a ‘retirement’. The thought of a flag sitting in a dump for who knows how long just disgusts me! That flag has done its duty, and it should be properly disposed of.

I odn’t know about you, but I am devoted to our flag. Thirteen stripes for thirteen colonies, and fifity stars for fifty states. It’s very beautify, flowing in the wind. Most of my family served in a war. They were serving our country. The flag is very, very special to me because they could have died but still they chose to serve the flag. The flag is important. I will choose to serve it forever. And when our country calls, it knows where to find me.

Third Place: Jaime Self – Moravia, Iowa – Moravia Post #407

The Unforgettable Flag

People show love for each other by creating things like the blanket that my Grandma made for me when fabric. When Betsy Ross created the flag in 1776 to present to soldiers she wanted to unite them to fight for their lives. This flag is more than a piece of fabric, it reminds us of what makes up America, provides history through the stripes, and stands for freedoms given by soldiers.

The flag is a symbol of our country. Americans see the white which stands for purity and innocence. The blue canton signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice. The flag has fifty stars that represent all of the states, the 29th star stands for Iowa. I am thankful that Iowa is a part of a free country.

The colors of the flag are bold and bright to represent our nation. The 3rd stripe stands for the courage and bravery of our soldiers. The 6th stripe represents “The Preamble” which ensures Americans’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The 10th stripe reminds Americans of “The Gettysburg Address” given by Abraham Lincoln when he declares that “all me are created equal”.

The flag reminds Americans of the gratitude for the soldiers that have fought to give our country freedom. Americans have the freedom of speech so they can express themselves. Americans have the freedom of religion, they can believe in whatever they choose. Soldiers fought not only for their lives but for all the citizens of the United States. Soldiers saved our country and gave us all these freedoms and rights. Every Americans should be thankful when they see the flag.

This unforgettable piece of fabric is a symbol of our country, our freedoms, and rights. I will always be thankful and loyal to our flag.

Get out there a promote Americanism in your communities!

%d bloggers like this: