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High-schoolers address US Constitution's relevance
Three Corning High School students successfully wrote essays for this year's Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy contest.
The theme was "Is the Constitution Still Relevant?"
The annual contest is open to high school students, giving them opportunity to write and speak about a patriotic subject.
The three winners will have their essays sent to state competition for a chance to reach the national level.
This year's first place winner is senior Daniel Gaskell, who was presented $300 by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4218.
"Is the Constitution still relevant? The best way to answer that question is with another question," wrote Gaskell. "Are we Americans? The Constitution is what separates us from other countries, it defines us as citizens of the land of the free."
He states if we lose the freedom the Constitution promises, we lose everything. Gaskell writes about the impact on our country if the Constitution was abolished, comparing it to the French government previous to the French revolution.
"When the Constitution is gone, we will lose the Bill of Rights, contained in the Bill of Rights is our right to privacy," Gaskell wrote.
He talks about the other rights citizens would lose, such as keep and bear arms, having a militia, and freedom of speech.
"Scary, isn't it. That is one of the possibilities if the Constitution is abolished," Gaskell states. "The Constitution is the hypothetical glue that is holding our separating country together. If we remove the glue we will fall apart, leaving all of our Founding Fathers work destroyed. We need to stay a democracy, but we also need to show some effort and ingenuity."
He closes his essay with the words, "The Constitution is still relevant and always will be. It is the basis of our great country and needs to be a symbol of our freedom and what our country is all about."
Second place winner, 12-grader Kristin Cox, received $200 for her work.
She wrote, "The United States of America, above debatably every other country, is known for its freedom and treatment of all people with equality. These ideas that we call our rights are given to us by the document known to be America's supreme law of the land — the US Constitution."
She describes the Constitution as something meant to guide and create the rules of our lives and that it is just as "pertinent as it was over two hundred years ago."
Cox states the country needs the Constitution today more than ever.
"There's no denying the fact that our country has been in a downward spiral. We need some things to change, but it's not our Constitution," she wrote.
Cox discusses constitutional amendments that have been added as the country evolved, such as the abolishment of slavery and giving women the right to vote.
"America has progressed, and with it, so has the Constitution," states Cox's essay.
"If we turn away from it now, we will lose the glue that has held our nation together, and lose the freedom and rights we've grown to take for granted since the Constitution have them to us at birth."
Corning High School senior Kaitlin Danielson earned $100 for her third place essay.
National winners of the Voice of Democracy receive $30,000 and a free trip to Washington DC.