Winners of the Caledonia Country Bar Association's Constitutional Essay Contest, held last spring, are Lydia Ham, of Sheffield, winner in the grade 9-12 category; and Devon

Constitution Day is celebrated Sept. 17, the day the Constitution was signed in 1787.

The following are their winning essays.

The rights enumerated in the United States Constitution affect our lives in many ways. A particular Constitutional right that has affected my life is the freedom of speech and the press.

Found in the very first amendment to the Constitution alongside the corresponding rights of assembly, religion and appeal to the government; the freedom of speech and the press protects us from the oppression that existed in eras such as the Inquisition and still exists today in many areas of the world. Because of my freedom of speech and press, I can openly hold, discuss and even publish my own opinions.

Town meetings have shown me this right in action. My father is the moderator of our town meeting, and in the past I have often carried a microphone to the various people of my community who want to practice their freedom of speech by voicing their views on an article. This experience demonstrated the freedom of speech to me in a solid, tangible way. At town meeting, many people with widely varying and often conflicting opinions have the opportunity to communicate their ideas to the people around them.

In addition to assisting with this important yearly function, I have had the opportunity to exercise my own right to speech and press. I have spoken in many venues about issues that are important to me. My writing has been published. Even in writing this essay, I am utilizing this valuable freedom.

]The freedom of speech and press is inextricably a part of my life. From daily conversations, to the local newspaper, to the Vermont tradition of town meeting, everything around me is influenced by this right. I don't have to worry about being imprisoned or even killed on account of my beliefs as our forefathers once were. A free voice, secured by the right of speech and press in our United States Constitution, is an essential part of my life as an American citizen.

By Lydia Ham, age 16

The right to bear arms is a very important law in my life. The right to bear arms means that you can have possession of weapons. This law has impacted my life greatly. Because of the fact that firearms are such a big part of my life I would be very upset.

When I was a little kid I was brought up around firearms. My dad is a hunter so I was taught how to handle them correctly. I believe it is very important to have this law in Vermont and if we didn't have it, I think it would affect people in many ways.

In Vermont where I live many people are outdoorsman and they like to hunt, fish and be outside. If they took away the right to bear arms then people wouldn't be able to hunt. Some people depend on the meat that they get from hunting. I use firearms a lot and if I had to get rid of all of them I would be very upset. I bet a lot of other people in Vermont would feel the same way. Firearms are not only a thing that people in the world have; its part of their lives. This is why I believe it is important that we have the right to bear arms.

Fire arms and other weapons are not only used for hunting, they are also used for protection. Some people have weapons are not only used for hunting though they are also used for protection. Some people have weapons in their house for protection. People are very scared now and days that someone is going to break in. Because of this people trust in weapons for safety. There is a rising crime rate now so people are taking safety as a higher standard. If we didn't have the right to bear arms, but the criminals some how got them, they would be unstoppable. The people wouldn't be able to protect themselves and the world would become not safe. This is why it is important that we have the right to bear arms.

It is important that we have the right to bear arms, because if we didn't I would have turned out different. I wouldn't of been able to get my first deer. I wouldn't have been able to bond with my dad as much. I wouldn't have been able to get the enjoyment of all the times I went out hunting. I also probably wouldn't have spent as much time outside. Having the right to bear arms does very much for people. This is why it important to have the right to bear arms.

By Devon


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