Thursday, June 6, 2013
Shaping leaders of tomorrow starts today
Being an American citizen comes with cherished rights. Exercising those rights makes our democracy stronger and determines the America we leave to future generations. In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Boston and Benghazi, we are reminded of the great need to stand together – united by the Constitution, our freedom, and our values.
Part of our civic duty is ensuring today’s youth are educated about the democratic process. Sadly, statistics show far too many U.S. students are uninformed about how our government works. In 2011, the National Assessment of Educational Progress found only about a quarter of students achieved a proficient score in civics.
Meet Tomorrow’s Leaders
Many young Mississippians are learning about democracy by seeing it in action firsthand. Throughout the year, I also welcome students to my offices in Washington and Mississippi as interns, where they assist with legislative duties and day-to-day operations.
The experience provides a unique opportunity for students to observe the inner workings of Congress and advance their understanding of American history. For many, it inspires a career in public service.
Leadership is important at all levels of government, from the White House to the local school board. The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary continue to play a tremendous role in showing our young men and women the many ways they can serve. The annual Boys State and Girls State programs give high school juniors the practical experience of setting up a working government at the city, county, and state levels. The program’s activities include campaigning and running for office, holding court proceedings, and writing laws. More than a million young Americans have participated since the programs began in the 1930s.
My own experiences at Boys State and as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives were instrumental in shaping my interest in public service. My son McDaniel is also a Boys State alumnus, and my wife and daughter attended Girls State.
As a speaker at Mississippi’s Boys State and Girls State this year, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm of participants to be active and involved citizens. These young leaders are eager and optimistic about the potential they have to make a difference.
A Proud American Tradition
These young men and women certainly follow in noteworthy footsteps. Founded nearly a century ago, the American Legion is a veterans’ organization with 2.4 million members across the country and world. Its efforts helped launch the U.S. Veterans Bureau, which later became the Veterans Administration, and the GI Bill.
Like the organization’s early leaders, who sought care and rehabilitation for the soldiers returning from World War I, today’s members of the American Legion still work to live out the motto “For God and country.” Through programs and activities, they dedicate their time and energy to fostering patriotism and providing assistance to military families. They set a proud example of citizenship for all of us.
Take the Next Step
To find out more about the internship program in my office, please visit my Senate website at wicker.senate.gov. For more information about Boys State and Girls State, please visit boysandgirlsstate.org.
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