Young orator addresses the second amendment

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Tue., Feb. 5, 2013
American Legion Post 52 Adjutant Bob Kramer congratulates Coventry High School junior Dan Bullock for a job well done after the oratorical scholarship competition on Jan. 31. Photos by Melanie Savage.
American Legion Post 52 Adjutant Bob Kramer congratulates Coventry High School junior Dan Bullock for a job well done after the oratorical scholarship competition on Jan. 31. Photos by Melanie Savage.

For more than 75 years, the American Legion has sponsored a national oratorical scholarship contest. According to the organization’s website (www.legion.org), the contest “presents participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation's laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.”

Over $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each 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 American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.

Competition begins at the post level, and this year’s Coventry American Legion Post 52 contest drew just one contestant. The contest had been postponed from an earlier date due to weather, and this might have been a factor causing two additional contestants to drop out. But this meant that Dan Bullock, a Coventry High School junior, would automatically proceed to the district competition, to be held Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. at Hebron’s Post 95.

This was the third year that Bullock entered the competition. For the eight- to 10-minute portion of his oration, Bullock worked with a speech he had given previously, addressing the second amendment. Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.

Addressing the “liberal slant” of media reactions to the recent school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Bullock said, “The simple fact is that guns do not kill people, people do.” Gun control is not the answer to such tragedies, said Bullock, arguing that such measures serve to keep law-abiding citizens from obtaining guns for hunting and self-defense. “The right to bear arms is essential and must always be protected,” he said.

Bullock said that he’d like to attend the University of Connecticut after graduation from Coventry, and study criminal justice for an eventual career in the FBI.


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