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Central High student wins national American Legion competition

From Deb Peterson with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A high school senior from Chesterfield, Anisha Gururaj, capped a weekend of competition in Indianapolis by earning an $18,000 college scholarship and first place in the 74th annual American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program.

The theme of the competition was "A Constitutional Speech Contest," and Gururaj won with her oration, "One Parent: The Constitution."

Gururaj started the weekend as one of 53 state or territorial champions in the 74th annual contest. She advanced to the championship through three rounds of intense competition.

In her prepared oration, Gururaj compared the U.S. to a giant family, with the Constitution being the parent. She mentioned 9-year-old Tucson shooting victim Christina Green as someone who died while performing a responsibility to the country.

"Each of us in this room and throughout this land owe it to our Constitution, to our home, this country, to each other, and to the victims of this tragedy and many others, to not only feel our own rights are protected by the Constitution, but to responsibly protect the rights of others," Gururaj said. "For they are one and the same."

The scholarships account for a small portion of the roughly $3.5 million in post-secondary scholarships that The American Legion, the nation's largest veterans organization, awards annually.