Photo by Jana Bounds

A celebration of democracy and of Richard “Dick” Allgood


Colorful shirts were everywhere at the fifth annual American Legion 7th District Oratorical Contest. Ophir Middle School and Lone Peak High School social studies teacher Tony Coppola stood before attendees and discussed how Dick Allgood was the reason he and fellow teacher Jeremy Harder became involved with the Sons of the American Legion.

He is also the reason there is a District 7 oratorical competition at all, Coppola explained.

Every bright shirt in the place – and there were many – was worn in honor of Allgood.

The young talent on display at Warren Miller Performing Arts Center would have made him proud.

As Coppola pointed-out and many of the judges agreed: most, if not all of the adults in the room would have been incapable of doing what two high school students did.

Lone Peak High School sophomore Carly Wilson and Bozeman High School senior Nick Cochin gave prepared orations on aspects of the constitution in speeches that were allowed to range from 8 to 10 minutes. They discussed historic dates and their takes on civic duty with ease – and without notes.

They were then tasked with an assigned topic. The 27th amendment was drawn from a hat by American Legion 7th District Commander James Howe: “No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Basically, as both orators noted, senators and representatives cannot give themselves raises while they are in office. Yet, the students deep dived further, studying and reciting the current debt and shifts in representatives’ behavior since the 1991 ratification of the amendment.

Cochin was awarded first place and will represent the 7th District at the state competition at Carroll College in Helena on March 21. Wilson, the 2nd place winner, will serve as alternate.

The day highlighted bright young minds embracing knowledge of the United States constitution and honoring hardfought democracy for some of the veterans who sought to protect it.

It was a celebration of Allgood and his lasting legacy to the American Legion, the Sons of the American Legion and American Legion 7th District youth.

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