Thomas Fleming, second from right, is the 2024 winner of American Legion’s Oratorical Scholarship Contest for Madison County. Presenting the award were Oratorical Chairman Danny J. Marr, from left, Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy and Post 237 Commander Jerry Phelps. CONTRIBUTED

Thomas Fleming wins American Legion Oratorical Contest

MADISON – Thomas Fleming was the first-place winner in American Legion’s 2024 Oratorical Scholarship Contest for Madison County.

Madison American Legion, Post 229 and Huntsville Posts 237 and 351 sponsored the contest. In November 2023, local legionnaires encouraged interested students to apply for the contest and start to work on research for their speeches.

The oratorical competition is a Constitutional speech contest that requires contestants to give a prepared 10-minute presentation, along with a five-minute speech on one of the Constitution’s amendments. The event was held on Feb. 10 at Madison City Hall. Contest Chairman Danny J. Marr announced the winners.

Larry Vannoy, Post 229 Commander, presented Thomas Fleming with the first-place scholarship of $500, along with a Certificate of Distinction and plaque. Thomas’ parents are Steven and Cammie Fleming. Thomas is a home-school student in twelfth grade.

Thomas’ speech was titled “Our Intersection and Parking Lots — Lessons From the 18th Amendment.”

In 2023, Thomas was elected governor of Alabama Boy State and advanced to represent Alabama in Washington D.C. at American Legion’s Boys Nation event. He also has been nominated to attend the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. after graduating from high school this spring.

In second place, Emma Dutton won a $300 scholarship prize. Her parents are David and Tanya Dutton. A sophomore, Emma attends Providence Classical School in Huntsville.

Ausjua Wilson, daughter of Melissa Wilson, claimed the third-place scholarship prize of $200. Ausjua is a senior at Grissom High School in Huntsville.

“The two other county high school students who competed this year are Mary Fleming and Vachon Kurki,” Vannoy said. “Each student presented innovative perspectives and knowledge of some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, in addition to addressing a randomly selected constitutional amendment – Amendment II.”

“Congratulations to all the students representing the best of Madison County,” Vannoy said.

As first-place winner, Thomas will represent Madison County at Alabama American Legion’s District 12 Competition on March 2 at Madison City Hall.

The National American Legion Oratorical Contest has been held annually since 1938 to develop knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. More than $203,500 is available in scholarships each year. The national finals will be held at Hillsdale College on May 17-19 in Hillsdale, Mich.

For more information about Post 229, call 256-258-8534 or email commander@americanlegionpost229.org.

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