Lone star state of mind

Senior learns patriotism from Texas Boys State


Story by Alex Heo, sports editor

The thundering band marches into the auditorium. Students from all across the state of Texas rise from their seats as the Star-Spangled Banner enters from the right, receiving the attention and respect of everyone in the room. To the average person, the flag represents the United States of America, but to a Boys State attendee–a statesmen–the flag is referred to as “Old Glory.” Its image takes on a greater meaning after the experience of Texas Boys State.

I was one of the two people from Texas High to get an invite to the 75th anniversary of Texas Boys State. Going into the program, I was ignorant about  my city and state government, and my knowledge of federal government wasn’t much greater. All I knew about the program was that it was prestigious and was sponsored by the American Legion. My plan was to just get through the week, learn a thing or two if possible and gain another event I could add to my college resume, but I got so much more.

When I first arrived at the University of Texas at Austin, I was assigned to Hester City, one of the 22 cities at Texas Boys State. Every city has approximately 40-45 boys. Two or three cities make up one county, two counties make up a district and all the districts make up the whole Texas Boys State. Every statesman was assigned to two political parties. The program is nonpartisan and the stance that each party takes on issues within the “state” is chosen by the statesman themselves. This is created so that, according to the boys state manual, “it enables the statesman to grasp the meaning of some of the responsibilities to assume upon becoming an adult.” There were 1,008 boys altogether that participated in this simulating mock elections throughout the week.

One of the Texas Boys State mottos is “Learn by Doing”, and that approach helped me get through the successful week. While most boys ran for one office of their choice, I ended up running for four offices at Boys State because I was unable to win my first three elections. After each failure, I improved as a public speaker and had more experience in campaigning for the offices.

One of the best parts of Boys State was listening to all of the honorary guest speakers every night. After each speech, every statesman was moved. It was at these times that I learned how important it is for young Americans to learn the political process of their country. We were honored to have guest speakers such as former CIA Agent James Olson and former Boys Nation Vice President Louis Lombardo.
I gained a lot more than just another event to add to my resume at Boys State. Having the privileges and voting rights of an American citizen helped me learn how to become more of a leader and a valuable citizen to my country.