High School Oratorical Program

A Constitutional Speech Contest

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.

2023-2024 Department of Iowa Contest Completion Dates

Local Contests must be completed by December 3, 2023
County Contests must be completed by December 17, 2023
District Contests must be completed by January 7, 2024 (top 2 contestants may advance to the area)
Area Contests must be completed by January 21, 2024

PLEASE NOTE: These contests DO NOT have to take place on the completion dates (Sundays).

Department Finals

The 2024 Department Contest will be conducted on Sunday, February 4, 2024, at 8:00 AM. The contest will be held at the Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport & Conference Center.

National Finals

The 2024 National Finals will be May  17 – 19  in Hillsdale, Mich., at Hillsdale College.  Quarterfinal and semifinal contests are scheduled for Saturday, May 18 with the finals scheduled for Sunday, May 19. For an updated schedule, visit here.

Oratorical Brochure

2024 Application

Assigned Topics

Chairman's Guide

Background Checks

District/Area Contests

Youth Programs Flyer


Eligible participants in the contest shall be citizens of or lawful permanent residents of the United States.

All contestants must be bona fide students herein described as any student under the age of 20 years on the date of the national contest who is presently enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or homeschool), commencing with grade 9 and terminating with grade 12. Students must be enrolled in high school or junior high school during the time of participation at any level of the contest.

High school students that graduate early during the school year are eligible to compete if they are not enrolled in a college, university, trade school or other institution of higher learning at the time of the department finals contest.

Contestants must either be legally domiciled within or attend an educational institution within the department (state) where they enter the competition. Contestants can enter the competition in only one department.

The three finalists of the national contest will be ineligible for further participation at any level.

Local Contest

The American Legion National High School Oratorical Contest begins with contests at the post level.  For more information on participating, contact your local American Legion Post, email to programs@ialegion.org, or, call Department Headquarters at 800-365-8387.

Find a Post

Awards and Scholarships

Post, County, and District Levels:  Varies by location

Area Contest:

  1. $50 awarded by The American Legion of Iowa for expenses.
  2. $200 will be awarded to 2nd and 3rd place finishers and $100 awarded to 4th, 5th, and 6th place finishers to contestants in the Area Contests.

Department (State) Contest:  Matching scholarships provided by The American Legion of Iowa and The American Legion of Iowa Foundation:

American Legion Foundation Total:
1st Place $1,000 $1,000 $2,000
2nd Place $750 $750 $1,500
3rd Place $500 $500 $1,000

National Finals

The 2021 National Finals are April 9-11 in Indianapolis, at the Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel, 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana 46241, (317) 248-2481. Quarterfinal and semifinal contests are scheduled for Saturday, April 10, with the finals scheduled for Sunday, April 11.

All contestants and chaperones will arrive on the Friday of the contest weekend. All contestants and chaperones will stay at the official contest hotel.

A mandatory pre-contest orientation session for all contestants will take place on the Friday evening of the contest weekend. A banquet honoring all contestants will be Sunday afternoon, following the national championship contest. All contestants and chaperones will depart for home later that afternoon.

Final Round of the National Contest:

1st Place: $25,000
2nd Place: $22,500
3rd Place: $20,000

Prepared Oration

The prepared oration 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. The same subject and oration will be used at all levels of the contest.

The prepared oration must be the original effort of each contestant and must not take up less than eight minutes or more than 10 minutes for delivery.

Contestants may have in their possession a copy of their prepared oration in the first holding room. The copy may be in electronic or paper form. They may consult the copy of their prepared oration until they exit the holding room in order to begin the contest, at which time the copy of the prepared oration will be surrendered to the contest official who is monitoring the first holding room.

Assigned Topics

The assigned topic discourse must not consume less than three (3) minutes or more than five (5) minutes for delivery. The purpose of the assigned topic discourse is to test the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of his or her research, and the ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of government under the Constitution.

The assigned topic shall be drawn by the contest official in full view of the audience immediately before the last speaker begins delivery of his or her prepared oration and will be made known to the audience and each contestant approximately five (5) minutes prior to the time of delivery. The topic will be on some phase of the U.S. Constitution, selected from Articles and Sections as listed under assigned topics for the current year’s contest in this brochure.

All contestants at each contest level are required to speak in the English language on the same assigned topic.

Assigned Topics for 2024 Oratorical Contest

Amendment II – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment XXIII – The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the State, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Amendment XXV, Section 3 – Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Amendment V – No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Oratorical Contest Rules and Regulations

Rules and regulations for the contest may be found in the following documents:

Oratorical Application (PDF)
Oratorical Rules Brochure (PDF)