Boys State harnesses twin power

Boys State Twins meet

On the steps of Radford University's Preston Hall, a gathering of twins assembled during the 73rd Boys State, from right: Front: Melat and Meron Habtemichael. Middle: Ivelyn Western, Paul Moore, Saul Moore, Graham Gilliam. Back: Victor Western, Luke Dyer, Bennett Gilliam. Not Pictured: Sam Dyer. 

As the 650 students and counselors gathered for the 73rd American Legion Boys State of Virginia on the campus of Radford University, a unique convocation occurred - of twins.

On Friday morning, three sets of citizen twins, a set of counselor twins and a pair of staff twins met. As they swapped stories about their special powerful connection, the sun broke through the rainy skies. Hmmmmm?

The bond among individual siblings and the bond among sets of twins was obvious.Counselors Paul and Saul Moore, citizens Luke and Sam Dyer, Graham and Bennett Gilliam and Victor and Ivelyn Western and university conference service staff members Merat and Meron Habtemichael were proof that being a twin is double the pleasure and double the fun.

"This is a real highlight of a great week," said Saul Moore who serves as the chaplain for Boys State.

Brother Paul said, "Whenever we see other twins, we see and feel the strong, automatic bond we share."

The Moore’s bond has carried them through joint naval service on the same ship, in the same National Guard unit for 29 years and at the same employer, from which they retired on the same day. They now live within blocks of each other in Emporia and have served together at Boys State for 15 years.

"We do everything together, otherwise it is boring," said Victor Western, a senior from Dumfries, when describing the unique bond between him and brother Ivelyn. "I have a friend from birth."

At Boys State, the brothers have been split up and gotten to know new roommates and served in different roles. Ivelyn has been serving as sheriff for one of the 16 cities that make up the Boys State community, while Victor has been serving as treasurer of another, after an unsuccessful run for mayor.

"It hurt me as much as it did him," said Ivelyn about his brother's close election loss.

Radford University’s twins Meron and Melat Habtemichael are making the experience happen for the counselors and citizens of Boys State. Meron has been coordinating the guests’ lodging while Melat has been handling facility-related operations for the week-long gathering of young men from across the state under the auspices of the American Legion. Both are senior information science majors minoring in business from Addis Abba in Ethiopia.

"Working with my sister has been fun and it is easy to communicate because we think so much alike," said Meron.

The Moores said the two have been important parts of the successful Boys State experience. Paul added, "Whenever we needed something, they have been there. It must be a twin thing."

Jun 26, 2015