GOP Honors 2016 Constitution Day Essay Winners

From left, LAFRW President Bethany Tierney, Secretary of State candidate/ Dist. 59 Rep. Nora Espinoza, essay contest winners Julie Nolan, Brooklyn Scott, Anna Clark and Jack Ammermand and District Attorney candidate Yvonne Chicoine. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Staff Report

The Los Alamos Federated Republican Women held its annual Constitution Day Essay Contest and invited the winners to recite their essay at Saturday’s Constitution Day Dinner, hosted by the Republican Party of Los Alamos at the Los Alamos Church of Christ at 2323 Diamond Dr.

The local FRW organization sponsors the Constitution Day Essay Contest each year to encourage and challenge students to learn more about the Constitution and to express original, thoughtful ideas in essay writing. The young winners of this contest exemplify good citizenry through their pursuit of excellence and understanding of our Nation’s founding document.

Elementary School Grades 4-6 – Tie for 1st Place – Each winner received $100:

  • Jack Ammerman, Homeschool Student; and
  • Julie Nolen, Piñon Elementary

Middle School – Winner received $200:

  • Anna Clark, Los Alamos Middle School

High School – Winner received $300:

  • Brooklyn Scott, Los Alamos High School

LAFRW President Bethany Tierney presents a $100 check and first place certificate in the elementary school category to essay contest winner Jack Ammermand. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Jack Ammermand recites his winning essay at Saturday’s annual Constitution Day Dinner. Photo by Carol A. Clark/
Constitution Day Essay
By Jack Ammerman
Homeschool Student 

Up to this point, I feel the First Amendment has most affected my daily life.

Specifically, the freedoms of speech and religion guaranteed in this amendment have impacted my life in significant ways. This began when I was only five years old.

One day in kindergarten, I had my first encounter with someone attempting to take these freedoms away. While at recess, I asked a friend if he believed in God. He stared at me, and then ran to tell a teacher. I got into serious trouble and was sent to the counselor’s office. I was scared, and worried that I had done something wrong. But my mom stood up for me and assured me that I had not.

I have since learned that people in other countries do not have our constitutional freedoms. They cannot live their religious beliefs and speak freely without fear of punishment. I also now know that it is these freedoms that make it possible for me to go to church, talk about my faith, and even present this essay to you. Therefore, I am grateful for the freedoms I have, and I do not want them to be taken away.

I am grateful to our Founding Fathers who wrote our Constitution, to the soldiers who fought and died to protect the freedoms it guarantees, and to God for overseeing it all. Because of this, I am determined to be a well-informed citizen who knows the Constitution and lives according to its principles.

LAFRW President Bethany Tierney presents a $100 check and first place certificate in the elementary school category to essay contest winner Julie Nolan. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Julie Nolan recites her winning essay at Saturday’s annual Constitution Day Dinner. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Constitution Day Essay

Pinon Elementary School

The amendment I feel affects me most is the First, which gives freedom of religion. It protects people from the government telling them what to do; in this case, it’s practicing a certain religion that the government says is right.

I didn’t get to pick which church I go to, but I will when I’m older. My parents chose, and they take me and my siblings because they want us to learn. My mom says when I’m 18, I can make my own choice about worship. When I do make my own choice, if I don’t choose what I’ve learned at my parents’ church, I don’t have to worry about being punished by the government.

Also, if the government forces me into a religion, I’m not really true to that belief because it wasn’t my choice. I won’t have faith in that religion. Instead of someone telling me that I have to believe something, I can choose whether or not I actually believe it.

Part of freedom of religion is being able to talk about my beliefs without fear of punishment. For example, I can say, “I believe in Jesus, the one and only son of God. I believe he died on the cross to save me from my own sins,” and I can know I won’t face legal dangers.

For these reasons, I feel the First Amendment affects my daily life more than any other.

LAFRW President Bethany Tierney presents a $200 check and first place certificate in the middle school category to essay contest winner Anna Clark. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Anna Clark recites her winning essay at Saturday’s annual Constitution Day Dinner. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Constitution Day Essay
Los Alamos Middle School

I feel that of the 27 Constitutional Amendments the First Amendment affects my daily life the most. The First Amendment allows people to freely talk, worship, or publish anything even about controversial presidential candidates. I appreciate that I can read the news containing a variety of opinions about the different subjects, not just one opinion that the government has forced the media to state. I don’t have to worry about going to a specific church or getting in trouble for having a certain religion or no religion at all. I don’t have to be worried about being forced to worship a certain way. Without the First Amendment, the music I listen to on things like YouTube might not be there or would be all propaganda for things the government wants you to do. Instagram, Facebook, or Snap Chat might not exist or they would have to be censored and probably people couldn’t just post whatever they want to anymore.

Many of my daily activities would probably be changed. The Internet should it exist might only have political propaganda on it. Clubs like speech and debate would not debate but would be“advertising” established government opinions on certain issues. My classes would be no fun because we would be limited in our ability to speak our minds about subjects we are studying. People in my generation sometimes take our freedoms, especially the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, for granted because most of us have been brought up with these rights and don’t take the time realize how our life is affected every day by these freedoms and can not imagine life without them. Even as a teenager, I understand the impacts of the First Amendment and how it affects my everyday life through classes, online interaction, news, and in my everyday conversations with friends, family, and classmates.

LAFRW President Bethany Tierney presents a $300 check and first place certificate in the high school category to essay contest winner Brooklyn Scott. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Brooklyn Scott recites her winning essay at Saturday’s annual Constitution Day Dinner. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Constitution Day Essay
Los Alamos High School

“Ense petit placidam sub libertatequietem,” is the Latin inscription on the inner ring of the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It circles around a young solider holding a sword readily in one hand and the Magna Carta in the other. When translated these words say, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” The patriots, like their fathers before them, came to America believing they would keep their rights as Englishmen as well as a new freedom. Later when neither of those prospects seemed likely, they swore to defend this land for a greater peace; one where all rights were understood.England had violated these rights promised by the Magna Carta and other important documents. For this reason, patriots picked up their pens and swords to rewrite what history had falsely promised them.

The Magna Carta was first created June 15, 1215, but was not effectively empowered until 1225 under the new rule of King Henry III. The original copy consisted of 69 clauses, but only three remain in England’s law books today. One of which was most important to early colonists: “That no freeman ought to be taken, or imprisoned…or in any manner destroyed, or deprived of his…liberty, or property, but by the judgment of his peers…” Even as early as 1668 this law was overlooked;a passionate Quaker by the name of William Penn was unfairly tried multiple times. In his most infamous trial, the jury found him ‘not guilty’ but the Lord Mayor convicted him and the jury of ‘contempt of court’ and sentenced them to jail. This wouldn’t be the last time the Magna Carta was ignored.

Over time, eluding the Magna Carta was done in a moresubtle manner. As contention rose between the colonies and Britain, officials passed laws to quench independent ideas. Some examples include that any British officer accused was to be tried in England, where witnesses were scarce, instead of in the colonies. Then, they denied the colonists the right to a trial by jury and left the verdict and punishment up to the judge. As time wore on, they ensured those judges were specially chosen and supervised by British authorities. Parliament could now claim any person to be a traitor and imprison or execute them without a fair trial.

Despite dissolute management of the colonies, mixed feelings ofthe rebels were heard. Loyalists argued that the Crown was the rightful government and to resist it would be morally wrong. On the other hand, the same Crown had unmorally violated their rights as Englishmen and therefore should be challenged. Britain’s failure to provide the colonies’ rights as Englishmen gave the patriots justification to rebel against them. They dreamed of a greater peace, whose core ideas would come from the Magna Carta itself.

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