Orem Constitution Month Art Contest Winners
Kids Division Winner – Abigail Hunsaker
Abigail wants to be an author when she grows up and loves the constitution because it protects her freedom of expression and gives her the ability to write.
Adult Division Winner – James Sands
James is a local photographer and titled this photo “That Our Flag was Still There.”
Orem Constitution Month Essay Contest Winners
1st Place – Mekenna Epperson
Throughout my life’s journey, the Constitution has held a constant yet dynamic significance to me, evolving in meaning and importance at various life stages. My experiences have led me to appreciate the Constitution’s significance on various levels and have instilled in me a profound love for constitutional principles and a deep sense of responsibility to uphold and defend them. As a living document, the Constitution has continued to guard my precious individual rights over time, which form the bedrock of my American experience.
In 2014, I relocated to the Philippines for 18 months as an LDS missionary. Here, I encountered a different legal landscape than anything I’d ever seen. The constitutional contrast between the Philippines and America was stark. In the Philippines, I witnessed severe press censorship, intimidation, and worse; truth-telling journalists were commonly abducted and held for ransom. While the idea of free speech was celebrated there, the protections were less robust in practice compared to the U.S. Gun control measures were strict, yet I witnessed more violent crime there than I ever did at home. The right to privacy was a secondary consideration, and oppressive taxes left impoverished and needy citizens feeling abandoned by their government. The Philippine Constitution acknowledges many rights, but the practical application falls short. Living there gave me a newfound appreciation for the liberties I took for granted as an American — including the First and Second Amendments to protect my family and speak freely without fear. It was an important reminder of how unique and precious our constitutional rights are, setting the United States apart from the world.
My family’s history further deepens my connection to the Constitution. From my grandfathers to my brothers, each generation has willingly placed their lives on the line in wars to safeguard this nation and the principles enshrined in the Constitution. While I was not personally present to witness all these historical events as they unfolded, they still resonate deeply in my family. These men carry the indomitable spirit of our Constitution, knowing, as Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” To this day, they recount their stories without a hint of regret for their sacrifices. My family holds a deep appreciation for the rare and fragile gift of liberty, mindful of the countless men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for what our Constitution represents.
As a metallurgical engineer, my grandfather, motivated by an unwavering love for this country’s constitutional principles, also played a pivotal role in the Manhattan Project and the development of the first atomic bomb. His dedication extended to defending the nation against those who sought to undermine the very values and freedoms in our Constitution. His legacy serves as a testament to the enduring strength of our democratic ideals and the idea that the Constitution’s protection applies to those who cherish it AND to those who wish to harm it. My love for the Constitution has even driven me to obtain a master’s degree in political science.
In graduate school, I learned just how exceptional our Constitution is. It is the longest-enduring, most stable one the world has ever known, providing a steadfast foundation for our nation’s lasting peace and prosperity. It is disheartening to see my fellow Americans take our constitutional rights for granted. In the City of Orem, only about 3 of every 10 citizens voted in our recent municipal elections. As I think of all the sacrifices made to secure our freedom of expression and right to vote, it is our duty to exercise and cherish these rights. We must actively engage and participate in our democracy to safeguard our rights.
For me, the Constitution is not just a legal document; it is the living embodiment of our nation’s ideals and values. It has shaped my American experience by giving me a profound appreciation for my individual rights, a sense of responsibility to protect them, and a commitment to ensuring that the promise of liberty endures for future generations. As a steward of this constitutional legacy, I am inspired to continue my journey, striving to enhance civic engagement in my community, protect freedom, and honor the sacrifices of those who have come before me.
The Constitution is not a passive entity; it is the heartbeat of our democracy, and it beats within us all.
2nd Place – Lia Collings
The U.S. Constitution and a stay-at-home mother of seven may seem not to have a lot to do with one another. After all, as mischievous as my children may be, I have not yet rehearsed any Miranda rights to them at the scene of a petty crime, and they have not yet pleaded First Amendment rights of free speech to me when I’ve told them not to say such things to their sister. But in truth, hardly an element of my daily mothering can be separated from the freedoms afforded by the U.S. Constitution.
Thanks to interpretation of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause as well as the First Amendment’s free exercise of religion, the Constitution protects my right to have seven children in the first place. Many a Chinese grad school friend has envied me this liberty. Now that those children are here, the Constitution has created a government in which my conscience–not a king’s or a clergyman’s–dictates the rearing of my children. It truly takes a village to rear a child, and the Constitution’s establishment of a federalist framework puts the governance of my family in the hands of the closest locality.
My neighbors and I in Family City Orem, not faraway strangers in Washington, join in making the laws that most affect my day-to-day. While I certainly have the Commerce Clause to thank for Costco runs and Crumbl splurges, my weekly haul of violin, piano, and cello lessons are also protected. I am grateful for my freedom to assemble every time my son scores a touchdown for his rec league football team (and even when he doesn’t). Though I have never handled a firearm in my life and never plan to, I am grateful that my neighbors and in-laws can. In great degree I thank the Constitution for the meaningful and varied American experience I receive as I travel from sea to shining sea: we all unite under one, sparkling, star-spangled banner of freedom.
But undergirding these and many other beautiful freedoms, the U.S. Constitution shapes my daily experience by placing a hefty burden upon me, especially as a mother of seven. It has been said that the Constitution of the United States is an intergenerational covenant and, perhaps most famously by John Adams, that, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Thus, the U.S. Constitution shapes my American experience by putting me, as a mother, squarely at the center of its preservation. My daily chemistry of conversation and correction, cuddling and coddling, are precisely the elements that will keep the U.S. Constitution intact. Each mention of not just a founding father but a grandfather, every prospective of a high school graduation or future career, every scripture read or prayer said is both shaped by and will shape the U.S. Constitution. In the words of Lincoln, may it long endure.
3rd Place – Rio Barney
I wake up, safe in my house. I breathe. I read the paper, a free paper. I grumble about the coming election. I head to the store and pass by people protesting this or that. I smile. They are doing what only Americans can safely do. I check out, never in fear of anyone rummaging around in my purse. I head home. I grumble about the road work as I drive safely through it. I enter my house, free of unwanted quarterers. I put the food away. I roll my eyes as the news plays in the background. I fret over the state of the economy, the war torn lands that thankfully, are not here, and the unprecedented growth my beloved hometown is undergoing. I check Facebook only to grumble about my friends and their opinions that differ from mine. I head to bed after a long day. I rest my head on my pillow thinking about the events of the day. I wake up, safe in my house. I breathe. I vote, silently thanking my ancestors for fighting for me, a woman, to be able to do this. I smile as my husband drops his ballot in the box alongside mine. I attend the church of my choosing, silently grumbling about the early hour of attendance. I sigh, enjoying the hymns of praise to the deity of my choice. I become filled with hope when I look at my children. Children that will never know the sting of a whip, or the oppression of unlawful servitude. I wake up. I breathe. I’m free. Free to choose my words, my elected official, my religion, my opinions. I’m free. I’m safe. I’m an American.
Mayor Dave Young and Councilmembers David Spencer, LaNae Millett, and Jeff Lambson served as the judges for the essay contest.