Voice of Democracy Speech Contest – many of you may remember this annual event which in the earlier years all sophomores took part in, and recently all juniors. It’s a contest that has been around for a long time. I entered in 1974, purely for financial reasons. There was a school-wide competition that didn’t pay anything. I finished 5th and the top five went on to what amounted to a county contest. Here one could win $25 for 1st; $15 for 2nd and $10 for third. The five from Wiggins High School, Wiggins, Colorado, went to the “big town” of Fort Morgan (population 8,000 at the time) to record our speeches at KFTM, the local radio station, with winners from other local high schools. It was a little intimidating going into a room by myself with a giant recording machine’s big reels rolling while I read my speech. But the results came back, and Wiggins took 1st and 2nd. I was the 2nd and won $15 and a trophy that I didn’t really understand. When I brought it home, I asked, “Why did they give me a plaque with a corn cob mounted on it?” I was definitely raised on a farm. It was my cousin who told me that what was on the trophy wasn’t a corncob, but rather a microphone. (They do look sort of alike.) A microphone made much more sense. It went in the cabinet in our dining room where all things of great value were kept. The corncob/microphone award was removed later to make room for things of greater intrinsic worth.
This weekend I’ve been reading 2nd drafts of the juniors’ speeches – many really good ones. I always learn much from the stories they tell. One student wrote about his grandfather whose plane with six navy men aboard was shot down over Russia during the Cold War. Two of the six survived the crash into the icy sea. After being fished out, they were put into Lubyanka Prison (where Father Ciszek spent much time). They were held for seven months before being released. There is a book The Little Toy Dog that chronicles the ordeal. I’ve bought it and am eager for it to arrive. Mrs. Carroll remembers the incident. I was only three at the time. I’ll review the book when I’ve finished it.
Our very generous VFW Post gives $500 for 1st place. My speech would not have placed in the top five among this year’s junior speeches.
I had forgotten that I used to sign off from these posts with the Polish for Jesus, I trust in You. I’m going to return to doing that.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.

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