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Local student wins VFW speech contest

Madeline Loewe, a tenth grader at Lennox High School was recently awarded first place for the VFW Voice of Democracy speech contest for District 1. The honor earned her a chance to compete in the state contest in Pierre last week. Loewe received third place in the contest out of five contestants.

Loewe is the daughter of Matt and Paula Loewe, of Lennox. Her mother said, “ It was a pretty awesome accomplishment for Madeline as the other contestants in Pierre were all seniors in high school!”

Since 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW’s) premier scholarship program. Each year, nearly 40,000 high school students compete for more than $2 million in scholarships and incentives. Students compete by writing and recording an audio essay on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme is, American History: Our Hope for the Future.

Loewe tackled the task by first writing and presenting the speech for her speech class.

She said, “Recording wasn’t that difficult. I think the most challenging part about constructing this speech was probably the writing itself - finding a way to make all my ideas flow that would get my point across.”

The selection committee was given the recording of Loewe’s speech to listen to for judging purposes. At the banquet in Pierre Loewe received the state placing on the speech.

Loewe shared a portion of her winning speech, “But, this is not meant to be a call of despair. Our country is resilient: throughout all the things that the world has thrown at us, in the past and exclusively in the present, we have persevered. War, terrorism, natural disasters, disease, poverty… these things make us realize how fragile and vulnerable we each are, but also how strong we can be if we stop seeing ourselves as separate and superior and start looking at everyone as our equal. My goal for the future is for us all to understand these points: first, that the government and the country are NOT our president, and that the president is equal to – not higher ranking nor lower – each and every one of us. In order for us to establish true equality, we can’t pick and choose who we want to be “on the same level” as us; “equal” means everyone. Secondly, we need to understand that equality does not mean agreeing with everyone’s viewpoints, decisions, or lifestyles; if we are to live in balance, we need to see that equality means respecting people as people, not necessarily full-heartedly agreeing with what they have to say. Truly, equality starts with a change of mind and a change of heart.”

Loewe said she can see herself participating in this contest again. She said, “This is definitely something I can compete, and will compete, in again next year. The topic is different every year.”

Loewe has also received the American Legion Scholarship award from the VFW. She added, “I am considering a career in the military; particularly the Navy. I plan to attend the United States Naval Academy after high school graduation.”

Loewe’s other hobbies include running, reading and participating in Concert Choir, FFA, 4-H, taekwondo, and the Delaware Reformed Church Youth Group.

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