The American Legion Oratorical Scholarship Program
- A Constitutional Public Speaking Contest


To participate in the Oratorical Contest of The American Legion, the prospective contestant must meet the following criteria:

1) a citizen, or lawful permanent resident, of the United States.

2) Under the age of 20 years on the date of the National Contest

3) Enrolled in an accredited school (public, parochial, military, private, or state accredited home school) with a curriculum that is considered to be of high school level (grades 9 - 12) at the time of participation in every level (local through national) of the contest.

4) Legal residence and/or school attended must be in South Dakota.

5) Can not have been a prior finalist at the national contest.

The Contest

Each participant will prepare an Oration (speech) of 8 to 10 minutes in length, and will also need to present a second speech of 3 to 5 minutes on one of the Assigned Topics that will be randomly chosen and then given to the contestant approximately 5 minutes prior to their presentation. All speeches will be given in the English language and will be presented without the aid of a microphone, notes, podium, or any props.   Contestants will not be allowed to hear or see each others presentations during the contest, and will be in a separate room until it is their turn to speak.   Further details of each speech are provided below.

The Oration

The Oration will be the first speech presented by each contestant, and must  be on some aspect of the Constitution of the United States with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government.  Any portion of the Constitution can be used for the prepared oration, other then those that are part of the assigned topics for the current year

This speech will be prepared ahead of time by the contestant, and a typed copy of it, with the contestants name on the cover sheet, must be presented to the judges prior to the start of the contest.  The same prepared oration will be used at each level of the contest, but the contestant can do minor revisions at the early levels.

Quotations used must be indicated, and if they are longer then 10 words, the author's name must be cited in both the manuscript and the oration.

The contestant will be allowed to maintain a copy of the oration's manuscript up until the time they are called to the stage for their presentation, but will have to recite the oration without any external memory aids.

A designated judge will keep track of time, and will indicate when the speech has reached 8 minutes, 9 minutes, and 10 minutes by holding up a card with each number on it as the speech reaches that time.  If the speech runs long, the 10 minute card will be lowered and no further indicator will be given.

Assigned Topics

One of four topics (all of which will be provided to the participants in advance) will be drawn at random at the start of each contest.  The topic will be kept secret from all contestants until approximately 5 minutes before it is their turn to present on it.  During that time, no notes or reference material will be provided, only the card with the topic on it.  After their 5 minutes is up, they will have to turn the card back in, and then present a 3 to 5 minute discourse on the topic.  Similar to the prepared oration, a timer will indicate when the 3 minute mark has been reached, and will also show the 4 and 5 minute cards.
For the 2016 contest, the assigned topics are:

Amendment 8:Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 26:Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Article 1 Section 9 Paragraph 2:The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Article 1 Section 6 Clause 1:The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

2016 Contest Dates

Local contest. Sunday, Jan 10th at the Eagles building (316 S 2nd Street, Aberdeen, SD). Doors will be open at 1:45pm, first contestent will take the stage at 2:15

District contest. Saturday, Jan 23rd, same time and location

State contest. Sunday, Feb. 14th 1:00pm in Huron (Convention Center)

National contest. April 16-17, 2016, at the Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana

For more on the Oritorical Contest, please see The American Legion's national website