By tamara Each year, America recognizes February 1st as National Freedom Day. We honor Abraham Lincoln who signed a joint resolution in 1865 that proposed the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution, effectively outlawing slavery. The first commemoration of this historic moment took place in 1942, but National Freedom Day wasn’t formally, nationally recognized until President Harry Truman signed a bill to do so in 1948. While most Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day, it’s unusual to find many people holding celebrations in honor of National Freedom Day – unless you look to academic communities. Several colleges and high schools offer contests, essay competitions and scholarships which are based on Abraham Lincoln’s contributions to our nation. There are also online forums dedicated to scholarly dialogue and discourse on Lincoln and his many contributions as a politician. Here is just a sampling of the available scholarship awards for students who are willing to write about Lincoln’s contributions to our free society. The Platt Family Scholarship This essay contest asks students to carefully consider whether Lincoln deserves his nickname, “The Great Emancipator,” and whether or not he really freed the slaves. The contest offers three prizes ($500, $750 & $1500), and accepts applications from both U.S. and international students who are currently enrolled full-time at U.S. colleges or universities. The deadline for submitting scholarship applications is July 31, 2012. The Lincoln Prize This competition is not your typical scholarship program and requires quite a bit of work, but the payout could be well-worth the effort! Students must submit a scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln, an American Civil War soldier, or a subject relating to that era. The winning student will receive a $50,000 prize. Students must submit their entries by November 1, 2012. No application is required. OHC Lincoln Essay Contest Students and teachers in Oklahoma have an opportunity to earn money for essays and other creative content that focuses on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Prize amounts range from $100 to $250. There are categories for students by grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade. The deadline to submit work is February 18, 2012. For more information, please go to the OHC website. Education is one benefit of living in a free society, and we can thank Abraham Lincoln for his contributions in opening those doors for everyone in America. Be sure to take a moment on February 1st to reflect upon how different life might be had it not been for the 13th Amendment and Mr. Lincoln. If you are interested in learning about other available Lincoln scholarships and contests, be sure to check out Abraham Lincoln Online. Happy National Freedom Day!