1 Arashirr

Wilcox+Essay

I am grateful to be here with my wife, Debi, and my two youngest children—who are currently attending BYU—and several other family members who have come to be with us.

It is an honor to be invited to speak to you today. Several years ago I received an invitation to speak at Women’s Conference. When I told my wife, she asked, “What have they asked you to speak on?”

I was so excited that I got my words mixed up and said, “They want me to speak about changing strengths into weaknesses.”

She thought for a minute and said, “Well, they’ve got the right man for the job!”

She’s correct about that. I could give a whale of a talk on that subject, but I think today I had better go back to the original topic and speak about changing weaknesses into strengths and about how the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient (see Ether 12:27, D&C 17:8, 2 Corinthians 12:9)—sufficient to cover us, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes.

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Cover Us

A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?”

She said, “I just don’t get grace.”

I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”

She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”

She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.

She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”

She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.

Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”

Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”

She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.

I said, “Wrong.”

She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”

I said, “No. The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”

“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”

Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 2 Nephi 2:7;3 Nephi 9:20).

“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”

“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Transform Us

Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.

If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh, Mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a higher plane.

In the same way, because Jesus has paid justice, He can now turn to us and say, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19), “Keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we see His requirements as being way too much to ask (“Gosh! None of the other Christians have to pay tithing! None of the other Christians have to go on missions, serve in callings, and do temple work!”), maybe it is because we do not yet see through Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The great Mediator asks for our repentance not because we must ‘repay’ him in exchange for his paying our debt to justice, but because repentance initiates a developmental process that, with the Savior’s help, leads us along the path to a saintly character” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 149; emphasis in original).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, referring to President Spencer W. Kimball’s explanation, “The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change” (The Lord’s Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991], 223; emphasis in original). Let’s put that in terms of our analogy: The child must practice the piano, but this practice has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change.

I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.”

I say, “No, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”

They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?”

I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!”

Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?” They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” As my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.” As Moroni puts it, grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior (see Moroni 7:48).

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can live after we die but that we can live more abundantly (see John 10:10). The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be transformed (see Romans 8). Scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God (see Alma 40:26), but, brothers and sisters, no unchanged thing will even want to.

I know a young man who just got out of prison—again. Each time two roads diverge in a yellow wood, he takes the wrong one—every time. When he was a teenager dealing with every bad habit a teenage boy can have, I said to his father, “We need to get him to EFY.” I have worked with that program since 1985. I know the good it can do.

His dad said, “I can’t afford that.”

I said, “I can’t afford it either, but you put some in, and I’ll put some in, and then we’ll go to my mom, because she is a real softy.”

We finally got the kid to EFY, but how long do you think he lasted? Not even a day. By the end of the first day he called his mother and said, “Get me out of here!” Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.

In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.

Jesus checks His clipboard and says, “Oh, shoot, Brad. You missed it by two points.”

Brad begs Jesus, “Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.” That’s how I always saw it.

But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!” Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.”

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become pianists.

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Help Us

“But Brother Wilcox, don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?

Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they always feel like they are just not good enough. They don’t understand grace.

There are young women who know they are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them, and they love Him. Then they graduate from high school, and the values they memorized are put to the test. They slip up. They let things go too far, and suddenly they think it is all over. These young women don’t understand grace.

There are young men who grow up their whole lives singing, “I hope they call me on a mission,” and then they do actually grow a foot or two and flake out completely. They get their Eagles, graduate from high school, and go away to college. Then suddenly these young men find out how easy it is to not be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, or reverent. They mess up. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then they do it. They say, “This is stupid. I will never do it again.” And then they do it. The guilt is almost unbearable. They don’t dare talk to a bishop. Instead, they hide. They say, “I can’t do this Mormon thing. I’ve tried, and the expectations are just way too high.” So they quit. These young men don’t understand grace.

I know returned missionaries who come home and slip back into bad habits they thought were over. They break promises made before God, angels, and witnesses, and they are convinced there is no hope for them now. They say, “Well, I’ve blown it. There is no use in even trying any more.” Seriously? These young people have spent entire missions teaching people about Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and now they think there is no hope for them? These returned missionaries don’t understand grace.

I know young married couples who find out after the sealing ceremony is over that marriage requires adjustments. The pressures of life mount, and stress starts taking its toll financially, spiritually, and even sexually. Mistakes are made. Walls go up. And pretty soon these husbands and wives are talking with divorce lawyers rather than talking with each other. These couples don’t understand grace.

In all of these cases there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13).

One young man wrote me the following e-mail: “I know God has all power, and I know He will help me if I’m worthy, but I’m just never worthy enough to ask for His help. I want Christ’s grace, but I always find myself stuck in the same self-defeating and impossible position: no work, no grace.”

I wrote him back and testified with all my heart that Christ is not waiting at the finish line once we have done “all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). He is with us every step of the way.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 155). So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch (see Hebrews 12:2).

In twelve days we celebrate Pioneer Day. The first company of Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Their journey was difficult and challenging; still, they sang:

Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
[“Come, Come, Ye Saints,” Hymns, 2002, no. 30]

“Grace shall be as your day”—what an interesting phrase. We have all sung it hundreds of times, but have we stopped to consider what it means? “Grace shall be as your day”: grace shall be like a day. As dark as night may become, we can always count on the sun coming up. As dark as our trials, sins, and mistakes may appear, we can always have confidence in the grace of Jesus Christ. Do we earn a sunrise? No. Do we have to be worthy of a chance to begin again? No. We just have to accept these blessings and take advantage of them. As sure as each brand-new day, grace—the enabling power of Jesus Christ—is constant. Faithful pioneers knew they were not alone. The task ahead of them was never as great as the power behind them.

Conclusion

The grace of Christ is sufficient—sufficient to cover our debt, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes. The Book of Mormon teaches us to rely solely on “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). As we do, we do not discover—as some Christians believe—that Christ requires nothing of us. Rather, we discover the reason He requires so much and the strength to do all He asks (see Philippians 4:13). Grace is not the absence of God’s high expectations. Grace is the presence of God’s power (see Luke 1:37).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said the following:

Now may I speak . . . to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short. . . .

. . . This feeling of inadequacy is . . . normal. There is no way the Church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. . . .

. . . This is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us. [CR, October 1976, 14, 16; “Notwithstanding My Weakness,” Ensign, November 1976, 12, 14]

With Elder Maxwell, I testify that God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is enough. It is all we need. Oh, young people, don’t quit. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, and, as you do, I promise you will feel the enabling power we call His amazing grace. I leave this testimony and all of my love—for I do love you. As God is my witness, I love the youth of this church. I believe in you. I’m pulling for you. And I’m not the only one. Parents are pulling for you, leaders are pulling for you, and prophets are pulling for you. And Jesus is pulling with you. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Brad Wilcox was serving as a member of the Sunday School General Board of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as a BYU associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education in the David O. McKay School of Education when this devotional address was given on 12 July 2011.

© Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

See the complete list of abbreviations HERE

2001 Essay Theme
(23 essays, 9 winners, $28,000)


Your essay or research paper should concern some aspect of the History of  Plymouth's "Old Village" area. Topic examples would be: the examination of the history of a particular building in the "Old Village" area, the research of the history of a particular family from the "Old Village" area, or the relationship of the "Old Village" area to the entire City of Plymouth. It is in the selection of a topic for your essay/research paper that your special creativity and originality of thought may shine.

2002 Essay Theme
(25 essays, 17 winners, $40,000)


The essay or research paper should concern the history of one of Plymouth's long- time businesses. It should focus on a family run business that operates, or has operated, essentially in the City of Plymouth and which has played a part in the history of the City of
Plymouth. A branch business which is, or was, part of a large business enterprise which has several branches in other communities is not to be considered. Examples to consider would be Beyer Drugs, Eckles Oil Company, or the Mayflower Hotel. Examples not to consider would be the railroads, the phone company, or the large banks. Additionally, the
essay could focus on the historical development of a particular business district in, or directly adjacent to, the City of Plymouth.

2003 Essay Theme
(30 essays, 17 winners, $38,000)


Your essay/research paper should be based on a program of personal interviews with a Plymouth Area resident who is at least 80 years old and has lived in the Plymouth Area for over 40 years. From this interview, you will write an essay based on the historical information that you obtain from this person that you consider to be important and
interesting. You will also be expected to expand on a particular item or concept brought forth in the interview, and doing original research at the Plymouth Historical Museum, Plymouth Library, or any other source you deem worthwhile, focus at least 40% of your research paper on this topic.

2004 Essay Theme
(8 essays, 8 winners, $19,000)


Your essay or research paper should concern some aspect of Plymouth's involvement in World War II. An essential component of this project is information gathered from a personal interview with a World War II veteran who was from Plymouth; the spouse of a
veteran who was living in Plymouth during the War; or the child of a Plymouth veteran who was old enough to remember the effects that having an absent parent had on the rest of the family. The primary aim is not to recount military battle stories, but to see how the residents
of Plymouth responded to the War experience. War Bonds, victory gardens, Red Cross blood drives, and war victims' relief drives are examples of topics that may provide a focus for your essay. Local women who worked in plants to help the war effort (similar to Rosie
the Riveter) might also be good interview subjects. The Plymouth Historical Museum and Plymouth District Library, especially the Plymouth Mail microfilm collection, would be good places to conduct background research.

2005 Essay Theme
(16 essays, 15 winners, $33,000)

Your essay or research paper should focus on how improvements in technology in transportation affected the people and businesses of Plymouth. Some possible topics could be the horse and buggy, the Inter-Urban trolley, the paving of Plymouth Roal and/or Main Street, the Alter automobile, or even the establishment of the local airport.
After original research at the Plymouth Historical Museum, Plymouth District Library or other research source, you should deonstrate/iscuss how one of these areas in transportation improved the quality of life and work for the local residents. For those changes that took place in the 20th Century, special emphasis should be given to personal interviews with residents or children of residents who can comment on the impact of technology on the Plymouth Community.

2006 Essay Theme
(36 essays, 25 winners, $ 48,000)

Charles G Draper (5/19/1865 - 1/26/1941) spent 47 years in the jewelry business in Plymouth. As a hobby, he was an amateur photographer. Through his images, he chronicled life in Plymouth at the turn of the Nineteenth Century and into the early decade of the Twentieth Century. Included in this collection are images of street scenes, various
private homes and individuals, businesses, churches, the Interurban, railroad accidents and local civic events. A collection of his glass plate negatives now resides at the Plymouith Historical Museum.
This year's essay topic requires you to choose one or more photographs from this collection and write a paper on one, some, or any of the subject(s) of the photograph(s) using original research.

2007 Essay Theme
(21 essays, 19 winners, $26,500)

Pick a day, any day, from 1850 through 1900. Then imagine yourself visiting Plymouth. Describe what you would see on the streets. Write about the businesses present; the modes of transportation, prominent citizens you might meet on the streets, kinds of dwelling places, schools, churches and municipal buildings. What are people doing for recreation or sports? Then, place this day in the context of international events. For example, if there is a war going on, how is it affecting the residents of Plymouth? If a new president has been elected, how did the residents of Plymouth vote in the election? Through original research in primary sources and newspapers, a time capsule of Plymouth on a particular day in history will emerge in your essay.

2008 Essay Theme
(21 essays, 18 winners, $27,000)

The years between the end of World War II and the end of the Korean Conflict were exciting ones for the residents of Plymouth. Soldiers coming home from overseas were anxious to return to their jobs or find new ones. Couples looked for new housing as they started families. (Their children are now known as the Baby Boomers.) Technology
that had been developed for the military during the war made its way into the public sector. Citizens of Plymouth shopped at new stores and organized cultural societies that still exist today. The government underwent some growing pains during this period, including the
Recall of 1949 and establishment of a paid fire department.

The Topic of your essay should focus on the changes (both good and bad) that took place in Plymouth during this time frame. Using original research, present a picture of the growth experienced in the community as both a business and residential area; new opportunities for cultural, educational and leisure activities; changes in city government;
and any other area of life in Plymouth you feel is pertinent to presenting an accurate portrait of this period. You are required to interview one or more people who were living in Plymouth during these years and use their recollections as a part of the essay. Other suggested research tools include "The Plymouth Mail Newspaper" (at the Plymouth District
Library), Plymouth City Directories, period photographs, and other materials at the Plymouth Historical Museum or Library. Sam Hudson's "The Story of Plymouth Michigan" may be used for background information, but must not be quoted or cited as a resource.


2009 Essay Theme
(18 essays, 18 winners, $25,500)


The Plymouth area was settled primarily by people from the eastern part of the United States. As well, immigrants from other countries were also among the founding/original members of the community. Who were these early residents of Plymouth and why did they come to Michigan from other states or other countries? How did they travel to this area? What work did they do when they got here? Did they bring any special traditions with them?
The topic of your essay should focus on either an individual or a family that settled in Plymouth between the years 1820 and 1880. Doing original research, discuss the geographic and cultural origins of your subject(s). If possible, find out where they set up their home and/or
business. What kind of hardships did they face in settling the area? How
did their lives benefit others in the community? Were there any lasting contributions made by the individual or family to life in Plymouth? While these are pertinent areas you need to address in your essay, please feel free to explore other aspects you feel appropriate in
presenting a full portrait of the individual or family.
There are a number of early Plymouth residents and families that have had a great deal written about them (for example the Starkweathers and the Pennimans.) Since the Foundation is trying to encourage document research and the use of various historical resources so that participants will get a first hand experience discovering these tools and the information available, it is suggested, but not required, that students use other and lesser known persons and families as the subject of their essays.

2010 Essay Theme
(16 essays, 14 winners, $26,000)

Margaret Dunning has been a gifted civic leader and generous philanthropist in Plymouth for more years than can be counted. Her 100th birthday will take place in June, 2010. What a better way to honor Margaret than to have students target some aspect of life in
Plymouth, Michigan as it was in June, 1910 (the month and year she was born) and then compare it to today. (While June, 1910 is a target date used to pinpoint a topic, certainly this time frame could be expanded to more fully provide historical background and the changes which have occurred throughout the following years.)

Subjects of this essay might include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
-Education in Plymouth -Social/cultural life -Family life and leisure -Politics in the city
-The urbanization of the Plymouth Community (neighborhoods, Old Village, etc.)
-How Plymouth residents earned their livelihood in 1910 as compared to today
-Transportation in Plymouth in 1910 as compared to today.

2011 Essay Theme
(9 essays, 9 winners, $17,000)

The Sesquicentennial Celebration of the American Civil War will begin in 2011. This year's topic of Plymouth Area Response during the Civil War Eraencourages original research not only on the greater Plymouth area's military role in battle, but also related topics
including local attitudes on abolition (Michigan Anti Slavery Society), possible sites of the Underground Railroad in the community, the Plymouth Ladies Aid Society, County Aid for Families, and Plymouth families on the home front, 1861-1865.

2012 Essay Theme
(___ essays, ___ winners, $_______)

December 7, 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  As a direct result of this attack, the United States declared war on Japan and thus entered World War II.  Your essay should focus on how this historic day, and the events that followed, affected the lives and businesses in Plymouth. 
The primary aim of your research paper should not be about battle stories, but rather how the residents of Plymouth responded to the war experience or the impact of the war on local families or businesses.  War Bonds, Red Cross blood drives, war victims’ relief drives, victory gardens and product rationing are examples of topics that may provide ideas for your essay. 
Personal interviews with local women who worked in plants to help the war effort, family members of those who were lost in the war or surviving World War II veterans would be especially helpful in developing your essay. 
The Plymouth Historical Museum and Plymouth District Library, especially the Plymouth Mail microfilm collection, would be good places to conduct initial background research.

2013 Essay Theme

Plymouth in the Twenty-First Century is a thriving community thanks,
in large part, to the men and women of the Nineteenth and early
Twentieth Centuries who put their dreams and hard work into laying
the foundations of industry, government, education, religion, and
public works into a small settlement in Western Wayne County.
Those founding fathers and founding mothers, as well as first families
of Plymouth, are the topic of this year's Wilcox Foundation Annual
Essay Contest. Your research paper is not meant to be a mere
biography of a famous person or family, but rather an essay that
focuses on the impact that individual or group of relatives made on the
growth and development of Plymouth. What changed in Plymouth
because of a particular person's life in the community? Are there
lasting effects that still can be seen today as a result of this person or
family either in Plymouth or in the State of Michigan?
Many papers and books have already been written about the history of
the Daisy Air Rifle company, so this topic is not appropriate for this
essay.
Sam Hudson's THE STORY OF PLYMOUTH may be used for
background information, but must not be quoted or cited as a resource.

2014 Essay Theme

Starting with the first school erected in 1827 up to our current Plymouth-Canton Community School system, education has been a vital part of the history of Plymouth.
Your essay or research paper should focus on some aspect of educational life in the development of the community. Possible topics may include the rise of the one-room schoolhouses in early Plymouth township; how the post-World War II baby boom affected the school system in Plymouth; pivotal figures in the education field in Plymouth and why they are considered important, or any other topic relating to the history of education in the community that requires original research.
Dr. Samuel Hudson’s book, Michigan’s Tenth Largest: Plymouth-Canton Community School District 1830-1986, may be consulted for essay ideas, but must not be quoted or cited as a resource.

2015 Essay Theme

Plymouth and the Great War
 
Worldwide, we are commemorating the centennial of World War I, which started in 1914 and ended in 1918.  Although the United States did not enter this war until April 6, 1917, the local newspapers covered the “European Confl ict” in great detail, including photographs from the battlefi eld and of the civilian refugees.  Having been exposed to this information, how did the residents of the Plymouth area react once the declaration
of war was announced?
 
This year’s essay should focus on a particular aspect of Plymouth’s response to World War I.  Possible areas of research might include the stories of those who volunteered to serve in the military… where did they train, where did they serve and what happened to them.  Other topics might cover the home front in Plymouth.  What sort of support was given to the war effort by those who did not serve?  Were local businesses and government offi cials in favor of the war?  Did the women of Plymouth contribute in any manner?  Since radio and television coverage did not yet exist, what was the role of the local paper in forming people’s view of the war?

2016 Essay Theme



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