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About the Oratorical Contest

The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.
Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. 
High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.
Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Speeches are eight to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.

2020-2021 Oratorical Schedule

Post: To finish no later than February 21, 2021

District: To finish no later than February 28, 2021

Department: March 6, 2021 in Helena, MT

National: April 9-11, 2021 in Indianapolis, IN

Oratorical Scholarship Awards

Post and District awards vary depending on the Post or District commitment to the program.

All District winners who appear for the Department preliminary pool (morning 6 March) receives $175.00

Each preliminary pool will send two contestants to the Department finals (afternoon 6 March) Pool 1st place receives $285.00, Pool 2nd receives $175.00.

Department scholarship awards are $1,500 for 1st place, $750 for 2nd place, $450 for 3rd place and $400 for 4th place. (It is the winners responsiblity to contact Department Headquarters after graduation)

The Department winner competes at the National Contest in Indianapolis, IN. The overall national contest winner gets a $20,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $17,000, and third gets $15,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $2,000 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $2,000 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.

Additional Information


How to Participate

Rules and information for participation


Assigned Topics

Review the assigned topics for upcoming oratorical contest.


Additional Resources

How to conduct a contest, rules, judges scorecard, brochures and more