News Staff Report
The Billy Glenn Rushing Post 90 of the American Legion in Atmore hosted for the second straight year the 3rd Division Oratorical contest on Saturday, February 23, with contestants representing American Legion posts in the Prattville and Mobile areas.
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff and American Legion Post 90 members Kevin McKinley and Paul Chason served as judges for the event. Post Commander Billy Elder welcomed guests and Legion dignitaries representing the State of Alabama and the 33rd District.
The American Legion Oratorical Contest, which was begun in 1938, is designed to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students.
Young orators, high school students under the age of 20, earn a total of more than $138,000 in college scholarships each year. The national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The scholarships may be used at any college or university in the nation.
This year’s competition was very close, with contestants delivering passionate speeches that left no doubt about the depth of their preparation and their thorough knowledge of the Constitution.
The winner, Anna Hagel of Prattville who last year won the Alabama state contest, opened her speech with an overview of the 9/11/2001 events and how everyday Americans stood up and fought, that as citizens, sometimes we must fight for things that are worth fighting for.
Anna provided comparisons of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution — why one survived while one failed — and how the Bill of Rights is a key component of our Constitution that supports the rights and liberties of our citizens, briefly highlighting the key components of each amendment.
Mason Brooks, who represented Post 88 in Mobile, was first runner-up. His oration emphasized how the Constitution provides various protections for our citizens while granting government the authority and power to act on behalf of our nation.
In attendance for the contest were American Legion Alabama Department Oratorical Chair Willie Rogers and American Legion Alabama Department 33rd District Adjutant Norman James.