RU welcomes Virginia Boys State participants to campus
An accomplished group of high school students this week will fill Radford University's campus as part of the 72nd session of The American Legion Boys State of Virginia.
This is the second consecutive year the university has hosted the weeklong citizenship and leadership action program, attended this year by nearly 800 high school juniors.
Dressed uniformly in blue and white, the young men filed Sunday into Bondurant Auditorium where they were welcomed to campus by Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle.
"I think it is fitting that all of you gathered here this week, the young men of Virginia Boys State, to be here with us for what I can assure you will be an unforgettable experience," Kyle said. "You will be learning about something special that none of us should take for granted – and that is citizenship."
The young men, each selected by local American Legion Posts, will spend the next five days immersed in the principles of United States government. They will participate in mock legislative sessions and court proceedings, law enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, chorus and recreational programs. Some of the top leaders in Virginia state and local government, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, will be among the speakers to provide participants with valuable lessons in politics.
Kyle reminded the attendees of the tremendous responsibility bestowed upon them as representatives of the Boys State program.
"As I frequently share with our Radford University students, success in life is based on creating opportunities for yourself and taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you," Kyle said.
She concluded her remarks with an inspiring story about RU graduate Patrick Horan. Horan entered the United States Army immediately upon graduating from RU in 1997 and, as an Army captain, was injured in 2007 during a combat mission in Baghdad. Kyle had the opportunity to meet with Horan last year during an alumni event on campus.
"Meeting Patrick, learning about his service to the country and his sacrifice, and being reminded of the tremendous generosity we see in our society, were sobering reminders that what we have in our great nation is something special," Kyle said. "That throughout our nation's history, this nation's generations of patriots have fought for and have defended this nation – the very way of life we enjoy today. I offer to you, that we honor their service by committing ourselves to the special duties and obligations required of responsible citizenship, to create the opportunities for a better nation. Responsible citizenship is the cornerstone of the Boys State program."
Joining President Kyle in welcoming the Boys State attendees Sunday night were retired Navy Rear Adm. William Cobb and City of Radford Mayor Bruce Brown, who also serves as an adjunct professor in the College of Business and Economics.
Cobb, who attended Virginia Boys State in 1962, spoke of the past, present and the future of the lives of the young leaders in the audience.
"I'm here to tell you guys that you are going to be the greatest generation in this country," Cobb said. "It's always been that way in this country. Each generation succeeds the previous generation and has its own problems, and you will solve those problems."
A short Q&A session followed Cobb's remarks, allowing attendees to ask the retired admiral questions about his service in the Navy and his participation in Boys State, an experience that "changed my life," Cobb said.
In the final question of the night, one lucky Boys State participant fulfilled a task he is likely never to forget.
"This may sound like an odd question, but can we take a selfie together?" the young man asked Cobb.
Cobb kindly agreed, and cheers and applause erupted as the student ran down the aisle and onto the stage to take a much-coveted photo with the admiral.
Boys State events will conclude Saturday, June 21, with an awards and recognitions ceremony.