The National Oratorical Contest began in 1938 with 11 mid-western states participating. Maryland first participated in the early 1950’s and in these 60+ years has had six National first place winners, second only to California’s eight first place winners. Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, and New York each have had five.
These are Maryland's first place winners:
The 2018 winner was Carlissa Frederich, a senior at McCracken County High School in Paducah, Kentucky. The daughter of an Army couple, she was actually born in Maryland so we'll take partial credit for her!
William A. Kitchen, a Past Commander of the Department of Missouri, is credited with being the founder of the contest. He experimented with the contest in a few high schools in and around Kansas City in the 1934 – 1935 school year. He conducted the first state-wide contest in 1935 – 1936. He went on to promote the contest as a National American Legion program, having the first contests in 1938 with 11 departments participating. The national finals that year were held in Norman, Oklahoma, with John Janson of Phoenix taking first place.
In 1997, Indianapolis became the permanent home for the National Finals. Prior to that, the event was held in different cities around the country. In 1983, the National Contest was held in Annapolis and won by Keith Finch of Virginia.
Maryland's most recent National Winner was second place in 2017! Robyn Anzulis was sponsored by Mt. Airy Post 191.