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Kentucky youth wins 81st American Legion Oratorical Contest

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At 17 years old, Carlissa Frederich entered The American Legion’s Oratorical Contest – her first ever speech contest – as a way to learn more about the founding of America and to express gratitude for her freedoms. Frederich’s desire to learn about and understand the U.S. Constitution aided in her writing a speech, “Limited Government: Our Right and Responsibility,” which helped earn her a first-place finish and an $18,000 scholarship in The American Legion’s 81st annual National Oratorical Contest: “A U.S. Constitutional Speech Contest,” on Sunday in Indianapolis.

“I’m just blown away right now. I still can’t believe it,” said Frederich of Paducah, Ky., about her win. Sponsored by American Legion Post 73 in Murray, she is only the second contestant from Kentucky to win the National Oratorical Contest in its 81-year history. And Frederich believes she made it from the post-level competition to the national level thanks to her “incredible support system with my family, my community and my (Legion) post … I’m just incredibly grateful.”

Frederich emerged from a competitive field of 52 other high school orators who won their respective American Legion department Oratorical Contest. She was one of three finalists to advance through semifinals on Saturday to stand on a stage at the Wyndham Hotel for the finals competition in front of an audience of Legion Family members, family and friends, and five judges. The judges included two American Legion program alumni – Alan Keyes, a 1996 presidential candidate who in 1967 won the Legion’s National Oratorical Contest and was elected as president of Boys Nation; and Rachel Forbes, a 1996 recipient of the American Legion Samsung Scholarship.

Once results were finalized, National Commander Denise H. Rohan and Americanism Commission Chairman Richard Anderson presented the awards to the three orators. Second-place finish and a $16,000 scholarship was awarded to Emily Parker of Lino Lakes, Minn., who was sponsored by Post 566; and third-place finish and a $14,000 scholarship was awarded to Nathan York of National City, Calif., who was sponsored by Post 255.

Frederich presented her prepared oration three times over the course of the two-day competition with a message each time – “that the founders designed a system of limited government. They gave us that right and it is our responsibility to preserve that given gift and preserve limited government,” she said. “(The U.S. Constitution) is the foundation of our way of life, truly. The American experiment worked because of limited government and to live in America we should understand the principles of the Constitution and the reasons we have the liberties that we do. And in order to preserve these we must understand.”

Frederich’s speech focused on the Constitution’s founding six principles (federalism, tripartite system, checks and balances, popular sovereignty, Republicanism, and liberty through the Bill of Rights) and related them to a wall of a dam – “a bulwark preventing destructive forces from being unleashed. However, the greatest fortification is we the people. Without Americans who perpetuate the principles of this document, it remains just that – a piece of parchment.”

Frederich emphasized the lack of Constitutional knowledge in our country, stating from a poll that only one in four Americans could name all three branches of government. “Knowledge allows citizens to share ideas and become part of the political process, holding leaders accountable to serve the people.” Frederich said her participation in The American Legion’s Oratorical Contest has “made me much more politically active and understanding of current issues .. and made me desire to be in the political realm. Not necessarily as a politician but as an active member of the community who has a voice and can make that heard.”

Frederich, who will be attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, this fall, encourages other high school orators to participate in The American Legion’s Oratorical Contest.

“You definitely step out of your comfort zone but what you gain is so worth it. Not only is it really an incredible experience as far as learning and to memorize a speech and delivering it to people … it is an incredible opportunity to learn about our country and our founding principles and the importance of the Constitution.

Frederich spent months memorizing and rehearsing her prepared oration and after each win from the post level to the department, she would tweak it. “I had to find a drive and perseverance in myself to really write (the speeches) and memorize them and perform them,” she said. That ambition of succeeding came from The American Legion’s Oratorical Contest encouraging “youth of America to recognize what we’ve been given and to try to become leaders and preserve the Constitution.”

Frederich will be an honored guest alongside other American Legion youth champions at the National Convention in Minneapolis in August.

Since 1938, The American Legion’s Oratorical Contest has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships. Nearly 6,000 youth from across the nation participate in the contest at the post, district and department level. For more information, visit

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California, Kentucky and Minnesota youth earn spot in Oratorical finals

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Three high school orators advanced through two rounds of competition to claim a spot in The American Legion’s 81st annual National Oratorical finals, “A Constitutional Speech Contest.”

Nathan York of National City, Calif., Carlissa Frederich of Paducah, Ky., and Emily Parker of Lino Lakes, Minn., will compete Sunday at 10 a.m. Eastern for a chance to win first place and an $18,000 scholarship. Second and third place will earn $16,000 and $14,000, respectively. Watch the finals live on

The contest got underway Saturday in Indianapolis with quarterfinals where 53 American Legion department Oratorical youth champions were separated into nine groups to present their prepared oration on the U.S. Constitution and speak on an assigned topic discourse – a phase of the Constitution selected from Articles and Sections – in front of judges, Legion Family members and family. York, Frederich and Parker were among the top nine orators to advance to semifinals where they edged out the competition to become a top three finalists.

York, 17 years old, is the sixth sibling in his family to be sponsored by American Legion Post 255 in National City to compete in the Legion’s Oratorical Contest; however, he is the only one to make it to the national level. The achievement is one he attributes to maturity, support from family and Post 255, and a passion for speech and debate. 

“Public speaking is our sport. We see the benefits of being able to communicate as being invaluable for the rest of your life in all the areas that you use it,” said York, who is being sponsored by Post 255 to attend American Legion California Boys State this summer. “And the scholarship money is great because you have to pay for college or wherever you’re going to go. We also love The American Legion and veterans … they have been very supportive.”

Like York, 18-year-old Parker isn’t new to the Oratorical Contest, but it is her first time to compete at the national level. Seeing her state announced as a top three finalist was exciting for Parker, who attributes her success in the program to participating in other speech competitions over the past year.

“It has given me a lot more experience and that experience has taught me how to use gestures and use facial expressions and just being able to apply that to this speech in particular has been really beneficial,” said Parker, who is sponsored by Post 566. “Being here at the national competition has been a great experience. It’s nice having these like-minded body of students that you can connect with and all the Legion members who are supporting you … it’s really a fun weekend and environment to be in.”

The American Legion’s Oratorical Contest is Frederich’s first time ever to participate in a speech competition. “I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to express my gratitude for the country, to learn a lot more about it. I had no idea what I was getting into but it was so worth it and I’ve learned so much,” said 17-year-old Frederich, who is sponsored by Post 73 in Murray, Ky., the same post that sponsored her brother, Zachary, his senior year for the Oratorical Contest.

Frederich said the experience she has received from the Oratorical Contest “has been life-changing. Going into this I’ve developed so much perseverance, just grit trying to get to the end and trying to make some good speeches. And then as a citizen, my love for the country has deepened a desire to be involved and understanding of current issues … just a good American citizen who wants to conserve the founding principles of the country has greatly increased.”

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Korea post observes Four Chaplains anniversary

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Col. Lewis L. Millett Memorial Post 38 of The American Legion in South Korea conducted three observance ceremonies during February 2018 for the Four Chaplains. Two ceremonies were held on Feb. 4 at the Yongsan Army Garrison’s South Post Chapel, and one was held on Feb. 11 at Yongsan Army Garrison’s Memorial Chapel. The observance ceremonies honored the actions of four Army chaplains who gave their lives to save others.

During World War II, when their transport ship, U.S.A.T Dorchester, was torpedoed, the Four Chaplains spread out on the ship, comforted the wounded and directed the others to safety. The Four Chaplains distributed life jackets, and when they ran out they removed their life jackets and gave them to four young men. As Dorchester sank, the chaplains were seen linked arm in arm, praying.

These four U.S. chaplains came from different faiths and backgrounds. John P. Washington was a Catholic priest from Kearny, N.J. Rabbi Alexander D. Goode was a native of York, Pa. Clark V. Poling was a minister in the Reformed Church in America at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, N.Y. George L. Fox, a decorated World War I veteran, was a Methodist minister in Gilman, Vt.

During each of the Four Chaplains observance ceremonies, William Wight, commander of Post 38, spoke of the sacrifice, courage and bravery of the Four Chaplains. Wight read the biography of each of the Four Chaplains. A flower was placed individually in front of the photo of each of the Four Chaplains in their honor, to include a salute by a Legionnaire.

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Top nine orators advance to Oratorical semi-finals

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Nine of 53 high school orators advanced from the first round of The American Legions 81st annual National Oratorical Contest. The following nine are headed to the semi-finals to continue their oration on the U.S Constitution: Caleb V. Wilson of Tallahassee, Fla.; Mattilyn L. Winburn of Bainbrdge, Ga.; Nathan L. York of National City, Calif.; Emily M. Parker, Lino Lakes, Minn.; Griffin L. Smith, Spearfish, S.D.; Isaac Bock of Indianapolis; Britney N. McGloflin, of Cabot, Ark.; Renee D. Betterson of Berea, Ohio and Carlissa N. Frederich of Paducah, Ky. The top three from the semi-finals will advance to the finals tomorrow at 10 a.m. Eastern Watch live on The three finalists will compete for $48,000 in scholarships.

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FEDVIP brings vision coverage to TRICARE beneficiaries

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Only half of the 61 million U.S. adults who are at high risk for serious vision loss visited an eye doctor in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eye exams can help keep your vision strong, diagnose potential issues early, and prevent diseases that may lead to vision loss or blindness. 

Beginning with the 2018 Federal Benefits Open Season (Nov. 12 to Dec. 10, 2018), beneficiaries enrolled in a TRICARE health plan will be eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). Coverage will start Jan. 1, 2019.

Beneficiaries enrolled in or are eligible for the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) will also be able to enroll in one of the FEDVIP dental options for 2019 coverage. TRDP will end on Dec. 31, 2018. FEDVIP offers 10 dental and four vision carrier options. If you are currently enrolled in the TRDP plan, you will not be automatically enrolled in a FEDVIP plan for 2019.

You can begin reviewing the 2018 FEDVIP program options now to better understand your coverage and cost options. Please know that benefits and costs may change each year.

The open season will be your annual opportunity to enroll in, change, or cancel a FEDVIP dental or vision plan. Each year, it runs from the Monday of the second full week in November through the Monday of the second full week in December. You may only enroll in a FEDVIP plan outside of open season if you experience a FEDVIP Qualifying Life Event (QLE). Any election in a FEDVIP plan remains in effect for the entire calendar year, unless you experience a QLE to cancel or change enrollment.

Almost all TRICARE beneficiaries are eligible to enroll in the FEDVIP vision coverage as the sponsor or primary enrollee. Visit the FEDVIP website for more information and to sign up for notifications about this change.

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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.