Boys’ State opens with orientation and memorial service

Published: Mon, 2009-05-25 (All day)

Publisher: Tennessee American Legion Boys State

Author: Karen Lykins

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Circuit Court Judge John Maddux, in his 30th year as Boys' State Board of Directors chairman, opened the orientation and memorial service on Sunday evening by telling the audience that the week of sacrificing time, energy and attention would be worth the experience.

Perry Roberts, vice chairman of ALBS’ Board of Directors, placed POW-MIA flag. Tennessee American Legion State Commander Earl C. Watson, representing more than 30,000 Tennessee American Legion members, placed the memorial wreath and welcomed delegates.
Charles McCaskey, Army chaplain and minister of Cookeville’s First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, told delegates they would become more aware of sacrifice as they see the flag-draped coffins of those in their communities who die in Iraq. “Freedom isn’t free; you have to pay the price; you have to sacrifice for your liberty.”
Cookeville Mayor Sam Sallee read a speech from WWII found in his grandfather’s belongings that read in part “No American can afford to be disinterested in government.”
Tennessee Tech University President Bob Bell welcomed everyone to campus. 2008 Boys’ Nation President Joseph Riley gave delegates advice on how to spend their week productively. 2008 Boys' State Gov. Atticus Wright swore in this year's delegates.
Judge Maddux informed the audience that Tennessee's Boys' State program is considered the best of the 55 programs in the world. For the third consecutive year, CPR/AED training will be offered to each participant. Streaming video will allow parents and friends to watch assembly speakers and parade ground activities on the Boys' State web site.
Judge John Maddux offered a well-received presentation on "Remembering Names and Faces." Boys' Staters learned the importance of remembering names in order to influence, communicate, impress, sell and create and maintain friendships. He challenged delegates to learn every person's name in their cities by noon on Wednesday.
Judge Maddux gave five steps and an acronym (INRAW) for remembering a person's name:
Be Interested
Get the Name (listen, ask about spelling and origin)
3. Repeat the Name (aloud, silently several times)
4. Associate Mental Image with Name (recall features, be silly)
5. Write it down (carry a notepad)
BOYS’ STATERS BECOME MEMBERS OF WHO’S WHO — Upon completion of Boys’ State, the American Legion will automatically submit your name to the list of Who’s Who Among American High School Students.
State Rep. Henry Fincher fired up delegates in the main assembly on Monday morning with a lesson on reasoned debate and discussions on hot political topics in Tennessee. Fincher, who graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Harvard Law School, is a practicing attorney. He represents House District 42 and focuses on funding education, fighting illegal immigration and creating state jobs.
Fincher began by telling delegates to be wary of how they use information from the news media. “The news media doesn’t report everything,” he explained. “The result from getting your information through the media is that what you get through headlines is just a snapshot of reality. Remember this, it’s [important information] not all in the news.
“Use media as tool and starting point,” he continued. “Use other resources. You can watch debates and committee hearings on the Internet. As leaders you need to do that.”
Fincher gave an example of how gun laws and an abortion resolution filled recent headlines, while the state budget crisis continued to be the lead concern for legislators and the governor.
“But biggest issue going on in this state right now is the budget shortfall that affects everyone,” he said. “Our budget is nearly 20 percent lower than this time a year ago and lower than where we thought it would be. The budget affects the money we can spend on schools —your schools —higher education, healthcare, and roads.
“If you say ‘What can I do about it?’ you can talk, think and vote if you are 18. God gave you tools. Speak up and ask questions. That makes a difference.”
Then Fincher launched a session allowing participants to experience how political debate works in state government. Fincher asked volunteers to present differing opinions on two topics currently being debated on Capitol Hill: gun laws and an abortion resolution. He focused on how each topic hinged on how a person thinks about majority rule and minority protection and how personal liberties cannot be legislated, but may be limited by government.
He continuously stressed to Boys’ Staters the decorum and self-control needed to debate and persuade in the political arena.
“When you are debating in an assembly, you have to make valid arguments logically, calmly and in order,” Fincher said. “Don’t make it personal. Orderly debate is the key to being heard. You may shout somebody down and shut them up, but you won’t convince them.
“The one time in our nation’s history when we didn’t come to decisions in this orderly manmer, we had a civil war. We have to engage people in these discussions. Low voter turnout stems from people being disinterested and too busy with their everyday lives. But voting is the way to answer society’s big questions.”
Fincher concluded by reminding the audience the need to understand the American process of government. “The issues will change, but the process should stay the same,” he said. “The process that our founding fathers set up is the way we make decisions.”