In September of 1928, President Coolidge left Washington, D.C., for Vermont to view the damage and reconstruction resulting from a major flood that occurred in Vermont the year before. During that trip, he gave a heartfelt address to onlookers. At just 290 words, the speech is brief yet powerful and is sometimes called the Brave Little State of Vermont speech. It contains a paragraph that starts with the often-quoted phrase, “Vermont is a State I Love.”
(You can learn more about the 1927 disaster by listening to “Vermont’s Great Flood,” a podcast episode produced by produced by the Vermont Historical Society and Vermont Humanities. Learning about the flood also qualifies as an eligible activity as part of the GoodCitizenVT program. See Activity #4.)
Almost 100 years later, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation is issuing a challenge to middle school students across the state of Vermont: Can you recite Coolidge’s speech from memory? Click to download a one-page PDF of the speech.
Step Up to the Challenge
To accept the challenge, familiarize yourself with the speech and memorize it. Next, with at least one adult (e.g., a parent, guardian, or teacher) attesting to your feat and acting as a witness, record yourself on video reciting the speech–without referring to any notes or receiving any assistance. Finally, upload your video and fill out our submission form to let us know that you have completed the challenge.
The Calvin Coolidge Challenge is open to all 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in the state of Vermont. We will review all of the entries, and every student who successfully completes the challenge will receive a special prize, along with an invitation to come to the Coolidge historic site in Plymouth Notch, VT. (Note: Everyone who successfully completes the challenge is a winner; we are not selecting a “best” entry.) The challenge will be open from September 21st, 2021, until April 30th, 2022, so start memorizing now and get your submission in!
Tips on memorizing the speech:
- Silently read the speech slowly several times and understand what is being said.
- Practice reading the speech out loud.
- Write the speech out by hand, either on paper or on notecards.
- Visualize each of the places that are mentioned in the speech.
- Build a “memory place” for the speech, allowing you to take a mental walk through the text.
- Commit to memory different “chunks” of the speech (for instance, each paragraph).
- Practice reciting the speech in front of a mirror.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to do the challenge. The more time you give yourself, the less stressed you will be and the more enjoyable you’ll find the memorization experience!
For questions or inquiries, write to Speech and Debate Director Jared Rhoads (email@example.com).
2022 Calvin Coolidge Challenge Entry Form