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Constitution Essay Winner

Vivienne Harden
8th Grade
Acadia Christian School, Trenton

“Home”

My state is a special place. Like a gigantic thumb, it rises in the northeastern corner of the United States. Each morning Maine is the first state graced by dawn, for West Quoddy Head is the easternmost point in the United States.

Maine's motto “Dirigo” - I lead - is most appropriate because Maine has played an important role in the history of the United States. England's first, northern colony was Maine (1607-1608). The American Revolution's first sea battle took place on Maine 's coast. New England 's largest state in Maine, and Maine is the only state that borders just one state. Maine is an important fishing, lobstering, and potato-growing state! Also, Maine has the Atlantic coast's highest peak, Cadillac Mountain.

For some people, Maine's jagged coast and forbidding mountains might be frightening. For others, maybe Maine's temperatures are too extreme, and its distances are too great. But the ideals of freedom, truth, justice, and equality are respected here. Mainers are self-sufficient. They are honorable and careful about what they do. This can be seen in their town-meeting tradition, and in the custom of neighbor helping neighbor no matter what the problem is. Today, and for centuries, Maine 's great way of life has been preserved by its constitution.

In 1819, a group of men gathered at the First Parish Unitarian Church in Portland and at Portland 's Court House. These men were delegates to Maine 's only constitutional convention. The convention leaders were Judge Daniel Cony, William King, and R.C. Vole. The constitution was adopted in 1820. Today's constitution has been amended or changed a number of times. However, it has never been completely rewritten. It is amazing that Maine still works under its original constitution.

Maine 's constitution is similar to the federal government's constitution. There are ten articles. The First Article is a Declaration of Rights for all of Maine's citizens. It involves natural rights like life, liberty, independence and freedom.

Articles Two through six explain the qualifications and duties of electors and officers. Specifically, Article Two deals with the rights of governors, senators, and representatives. Article Three speaks of the distribution of power in government. Article Four lists the power of the legislature. Article Five defines executive powers and the council, the secretary, and the treasury. Article Six explains judicial power.

Article Seven organizes Maine 's militia. Article Eight provides for public schools and encourages all schools of learning. Article Nine deals with matters that were not stated in the first eight articles like oaths, legislative membership, impeachment, taxation, length of office, and miscellaneous matters not taken into account in the first eight articles. Article Ten is composed of regulations for government and for making amendments.

Maine's constitution allows its people to live in freedom, but it does not allow people to forget or disregard the rights of other Mainers. Since Mainers value freedoms like speech, press, assembly, religion, fair trial, and privacy, it was important to write these freedoms in a constitution.

However, it is important that Mainers use their freedoms to protect their constitution. When I am old enough, I must vote. Right now I encourage all adults to vote. If people do not exercise free speech, they might lose the right to enjoy it. Never can Mainers take freedom for granted, for too many people in the world do not have it.

Maine's constitution has lasted a long time, and it is capable of lasting hundreds of more years. Surprisingly, Maine 's constitution is not out of touch with the twenty-first century. It is not an antique or souvenir from Maine's earlier days. However, each generation must understand it and respect it. Then, truly Maine will have a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

If the framers of Maine's constitution were alive today, they would be pleased how Mainers have used their constitution.


The Importance of Voting Essay Winner

Jackie Canning
10th Grade
Biddeford High School

"The Importance of Voting"

The American Constitution has created one of the most successful governments in the world. Why have we been so successful? It is because of the collective will of the people. As Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg address. “….a government for the people and by the people shall not perish from this earth.” The constitution has evolved as the years have gone by because the people have progressed and have taken note on how to continuously grow towards a better America .

The constitution has been explained in many ways, but I like to think of it as a working human body. The human body has a multitude of factors that keep it functioning and then there are factors that keep it running well. You know what I mean; air, water food and sleep keep our bodies in good condition. The United States Constitution has many branches and documents that keep the system flowing. As citizens, we must be willing to take advantage of our right to vote and also be willing to listen to and challenge the government we have selected. It is only us who can truly shape the course of our government and our futures.

What is it that calls the citizens of the United States to the Constitution? It is not just the famous line, “We the People,” it's much more than that. It is words written throughout the legendary document that puts emphasis on how we as citizens are in control of shaping our government and ultimately, our lives. We have that control because we are given the power to vote if we so choose. Unfortunately, not every citizen decides that voting is necessary for their lifestyles. I see the opportunity of voting as the bright flashings of a light house on an evening when the sky is at its deepest blue, and a ship needs to find its way to the harbor. It is the power of the votes that guide our government in the right direction towards a better country. In essence, my light house analogy strongly builds on the belief that each individual vote truly does count towards a brighter government. The constitution asks us to challenge the government, to never settle for less than what we deserve from our country. So in turn we must take the time to see that we are a crucial part of the check and balance system our government is so well known for. A lawyer I once knew stated that, “any law passed by Congress is constitutional until it is challenged and repeated by a court of law.” Firmly, I believe citizens are given the power not just to serve their government but also to help change it.

The constitution is set up to create a living, breathing government; one that is constantly changing, redefining itself, and keeping up with the times. It is up to the people to make sure the government does just that by electing the officials who will not only make and enforce our laws, but also challenge the government when they feel wronged. Thomas Jefferson wrote that all Americans are entitled to “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Just like you are the only person who can keep your body healthy, it is the responsibility of the people to maintain our government. If we are not happy with the choices of our government then it is our right and our duty to stand up and ask for change. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so, we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom,” said by none other than Martin Luther King, Jr. As the youth of America, we are what will shape our country for years to come, so we must stand up tall and ensure that no choice in this country is made without our consent.

As a young, woman, I cherish the fact that I will have the right to vote because I know that women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought hard for women to vote. I don't want to live in a country where the Constitution is just an ageing piece of parchment in a glass case. I want to live in a country where we take that piece of parchment and live and breathe by it. I can tell you with utmost confidence that this was certainly James Madison's plan. When Madison originally drafted the constitution he composed it of three branches; the executive, judicial and legislative. These branches are composed of the leaders and heroes of the United States who have made the constitution work. They have helped make this most important document hold strong. But, what brought them to make decisions on education, health, foreign policies and economic welfare, was the power of the vote. It is the votes of the people who truly form our country and make our constitution what it is today.

I know you all remember this past year and the excitement of the democratic race that was filled with diversity. I noticed that people really seemed to get excited about voting. There were many debates and a multiple number of arguments on who would be the best candidate for our next president. It has become evident that voting has become not just about who we like more, but who is willing to make the changes that we need right now. Whether it is better citizen safety policies, or a different direction in Iraq, it has become apparent that the government's choices affect us more than ever before. We must seek changes for it is a constant struggle to keep a healthy and fair government. Each vote, each individual, each thought, and each action that is made, allows us to exercise our rights. Together we are not just electing an official. We are determining the fate of our country. Just like when we make different choices and take different actions to better our own individual health, we must do the same to create a healthy government which in return will create a strong and thriving country.