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VFW Essay winners

VFW Post 5064 and its Ladies Auxiliary announced the winners of the 2013 contest for local students. A banquet was held in their honor.
The organization offers more than $3.5 million in scholarships each year using contests, such as Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen and Young American Creative Patriotic Art competitions.
Ranessa Merriman entered this years VOD, an essay contest in which students were asked, “Is our Constitution still relevant?” She won second place locally and also won third in the district.
For the accomplishment, she was presented a check for $75 and asked to read her essay at the banquet.
“This is wonderful,” said Merriman of the banquet. “I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
Rounding out the other winners in the category were Bliss Zechman, first place, and Alyson Lee Caten, third place. Zechman was presented a jacket and $100, while Caten was given $50.
Taking home the win in the Patriot’s Pen contest was Christopher Hennessee. He was presented $100 and a jacket.
Young American Creative Patriotic Art competition winners were: Alex Rowland, first place and $100; Victoria Warner, second place and $75; and Samantha Butcher, third place and $50.
For more information about next year’s competition, how to enter and the rules, visit and click on scholarships.

Bliss Zechman, first place

What an amazing document America’s founding fathers penned in this country’s 225-year-old Constitution. The Bill of Rights, or first 10 amendments, forms the cornerstone of this time-honored document, which lays out briefly, but brilliantly, the rights and privileges we hold sacred and those that guide our lives as citizens of this great nation.
Although this document for the ages was created in the hearts and minds of individuals who could hardly imagine today’s America and its societal and technological changes, the wisdom and values imbedded throughout its manuscript are the building blocks for the way we govern ourselves and the edicts handed down by our legislators and courts.
When the visionaries of the 18th Century fought tyranny to form a “more perfect union,” they did so with the belief their children, grandchildren and generations for ages going forth would no longer suffer the grievances of oppression or the bonds of service.
To those who might suggest the U.S. Constitution has outlived its usefulness, just take a look at the tenacity with which Americans cling to the rules put forth in even a few of the amendments.
Through these sacred documents we are guaranteed the right to speak without fear, to keep our families safe without worry of government intervention, to assemble, to worship as we see fit, to have our complaints heard without repercussion even if those involve the government, and to keep our homes safe from unreasonable searches or seizures.
Even those accused of criminally violating the laws of the land are protected from incriminating themselves by virtue of “pleading the fifth,” or relying on the Fifth Amendment to protect themselves from being witnesses against personal interests. And, accordingly, the following amendment guarantees defendants the right to counsel in the event one is unable to financially mount a defense, or equally important the right to confront accusers and to secure a speedy trial for alleged grievances. This alone is a unique protection Americans have come to accept as a God-given right, not enjoyed by citizens of many nations around the world.
When determining whether this remarkable document is still relevant in the 21st Century, one might rightly assess the constitutional framers, although often inventors and certainly visionaries, did not speculate on how the world would change and what the future would hold. It’s likely no one of that era, not even the genius Benjamin Franklin, could envision a world changed by cellphones and nano technology that places a full computer in a human hand, or brings people of the world face to face within seconds.
What these early American leaders did foresee and rely upon was the heart of mankind. That unchanging human behavior which, for better or worse, molds us into the nation we are today. Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and all those who poured their hearts, souls and livelihoods into bringing this union into existence did anticipate, and rightly predict, there would continue to be unethical, ruthless people and governments; however, a document as binding as the Constitution guarantees neither of these natures or entities is allowed to flourish, and equally important ensures freedom from oppression by authorities is guaranteed.
America’s Constitution is about unalienable rights — those that come from God, not from manmade governments. As long as we cling to unalienable rights such as liberty, self-government, free speech, a free press, right to a fair trial, to bear arms, to make personal choices, then the Constitution may be amended from time to time but never lose its irrefutable characteristics that make it, aside from divine scriptures, the most important and unique document in history.

Ranessa Merriman, second place

The Constitution is still relevant today. It has shaped society since 1789 and left an ever-lasting impact for generations to come. People refer back to it all the time in order to form new laws, as well as present their personal opinions and ideas defending their rights. Also, without it, government and politics would not be what they are today.
First, everyone has their own personal beliefs, whether the topic be about who would make a better president or about what laws should be passed or even considered, but there is one thing that brings society together: the Constitution.
The Constitution has set the standard for many people’s opinions on just about everything. Many controversial issues have arisen from the product of the Constitution being introduced in 1787 and in operation since 1789. To this day, many people either like or dislike it, wishing to keep or change things about it. For the most part, it is still being talked about because it is still in effect today even though some articles have been modified or completely taken out. Mostly all laws are centered around what is stated in the Constitution because some Americans feel it is their duty to abide by the written conduct the founding fathers have left for them. It still remains today due to how in depth the 55 delegates went when constructing it.
People refer back to the Constitution in many different scenarios. For instance, if members of the House of Representatives wish to impeach the president, then they will have to have a way to back up their reasons and give meaning to the impeachment trial. The Constitution allows them to do this. First of all, Articles II and III are what allows Congress to be able to impeach the president, given adequate reasons. According to Article II, Section 4, a president can be impeached if convicted of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Consequently, the Constitution could be used in defense of the rights of the president in this scenario depending upon what crime(s) the president has supposedly committed. The Constitution gives leeway for everyone to be able to defend themselves if they use their opinion based upon factual evidence with some backing up from the Constitution. This happens day-to-day in courtrooms.
Furthermore, government and politics have changed tremendously since the 1700s. That is why the Constitution has changed so much. As time progresses, not everything can stay the same, and that is why the Constitution has been changed with amendments making it flexible and relevant to the time period we are currently in. It is still relevant because if you take everything as it is now and break it down into its basic components, you will still get the Constitution as it was 225 years ago. Basically, the Constitution has just been expanded upon.
Similarly, I think there are really two Constitutions in existence. There is the written one which has the unbroken and constant operation. Meanwhile, there is a subconscious one that allocates the basic principles behind the document as we each perceive them. Roman writer Cicero once said, “To each his own.” I think this quote correlates to the Constitution and its relevance in today’s society. Everyone in politics views things differently and takes the Constitution into consideration in many different ways depending on their outlook, but one thing is certain. No matter what, the Constitution will always be relevant because it was the first organized, written, and established precedent by which we are governed.
In conclusion, the Constitution is still relevant because it is still shaping society today. It is also a perpetual way for the people to convey their thoughts while defending their rights. Last but not least, government and politics are dependent upon the Constitution in various ways because the two originate and continue to expand from it.

Alyson Lee Caten, third place

There are some who now claim that it is more common in recent times for other countries to model their new constitutions after other examples rather than that of the U.S. Constitution. After all, they point out, our Constitution did not initially outlaw slavery, guarantee rights for women, or come up with a consistent modern definition of the rights of privacy. But that misses my fundamental point about why our Constitution is so relevant even today: The fundamental power it provides has been strengthened with each passing year and each sequence of challenges it has faced. The constitution is not only still relevant; it is still our anchor to a more perfect union.
The power of our constitution is that it effectively distributes power of leadership so that the people as a majority have the final say over the long term, while individuals with temporary authority must be accountable in the short term. Because we have an executive branch that now numbers in the millions with legislative and judicial staffs of thousands, our constitution continues to provide a guard against the basic infringement. The constitution is not only still relevant; it makes is so we, the citizens of the United States, have the final say in our government.
In 1787, the Constitution was written, men such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry had fought hard to convince others not to vote for the constitution as presented by the Convention delegates. The men kept it all in secrecy, but one majority had decided it was their best choice, those men stood up and publicly declared their commitment to now endorse it and live by the rules. The Constitution is still relevant today, because event after the votes were counted, it was openly supported by the Anti-Federalists who had opposed it.
The Constitution has only been changed when the vast majority of Americans have freely and knowingly agreed to that change. Change has occurred like a solid rock — certainly not perfect in composition or smoothness, but consistent in its integrity. It has been chiseled carefully on selected bumps and aberrations to improve its surface. Sometimes the placement of the chisel knocked off a small piece that was later restored; however, the rock itself has remained in place firm and steady as always. The constitution is relevant today, because it has only been changed when a majority of Americans have freely and knowingly agreed to the change.
Time and time again, the Constitution proves itself to be relevant despite the fires of dissolution and destruction to which it has been exposed. When half of the states in this country chose to declare their rejection of a fundamental principle of the constitution, the people resolutely protect that principle of unity by their words, actions, and their lives. That to me means a great deal of respect to our country, our citizens, and our structure formed by the Constitution. The Constitution is absolutely still relevant today, because it has always proven to be firm, solid, and adaptable.

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