Fallon junior wins state VFW speech contest
January 23, 2019
Ashby Trotter, a junior at Churchill County High School, was named the state winner in the 2018-2019 Voice of Democracy speech contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The announcement was made at Saturday's state VFW winter meeting in Mesquite. Trotter first won the local contest and then defeated students from Hawthorne and Tonopah to win District 4, which encompasses all of Churchill and Mineral Counties and most of Nye County except Pahrump.
Mike Terry, who oversees the essay, speech and teacher-of-the-year programs for Fallon's VFW Post 1002, said Trotter now competes against first-place students from other states and territories in Washington, D.C. in early March. He said the Fallon student will receive an all-expense paid trip to visit the nation's memorials and monuments with other winners and will also attend a special leadership conference.
The VFW contest allows student to discuss their viewpoint on a democratic and patriotic-themed essay chosen annually, and then they record a 3-5-minute speech that judges review. This year's theme was "What voting mean to me." Students are eligible to win a portion of $154,000 in national awards, and the top scholarship is $30,000. The VFW established the Voice of Democracy program in 1947 to provide the opportunity for the students to express themselves in regards democratic ideas and principles.
At the state level, Terry said Trotter received $1,500, and each of the runners up received $500. He said post and district awards added another $500 for Trotter.
Since her freshman year, Trotter has submitted an entry in the Voice of Democracy program. She began this year's speech discussing the cry of "Taxation without representation is tyranny" and how it eventually rallied revolutionaries to form a new country based on personal freedom and an individual's voice.
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"In 1920, Susan B. Anthony and her predecessors won the fight to give women the right to vote," Trotter wrote. "Winds start to blow. Later, Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights groups are victorious. The 15th Amendment is etched in our Constitution saying the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color or previous conditions of servitude."
Trotter said the right to vote is linked in a person's right to choose. She said many struggles have been about others suppressing choice or freedom. She said soldiers who have fought to protect the rights to vote and advocates created the right to choose although a slight majority of Americans vote in national elections.
"Only 55 percent of voters exercised their freedom of choice in 2016," she said. "A higher voter turnout would have substantially impacted the election results. My vote matters because every action I take makes a different."
Trotter said consequences occur when people act or don't act when it comes to voting.