Post 73 honors State graduates

Published 9:48 am Friday, September 27, 2013

Graduates of the Boys State and Girls State gather for a photo at the ceremony. -- SIDNEY MOORE | TIDEWATER NEWS

Graduates of the Boys State and Girls State gather for a photo at the ceremony. — SIDNEY MOORE | TIDEWATER NEWS


The American Legion Post 73 opened its doors to 90-plus people on Tuesday night to hold a dinner and ceremony for the Boys State and Girls state graduates. This was a celebration of the students’ seven-day immersion in the art of politics and bonding. The participants honored at the post were from Franklin High School, Southampton High School, Southampton Academy, and Sussex Central High School.

The program is designed to help students become better and more informed citizens. The boys were sent to Radford University and the girls to Longwood University, where they stayed on campus for a week during the summer. They engaged in politics and even held a mock senate, complete with elections. They also had to run their cities, which were complete with mayors, sheriffs and even city hall meetings where everything was debated from water restrictions to the enforcement of curfews. There was still a little time for leisure and forging long-lasting friendships with new people. The participants were also able to meet some of the muscle of Virginia’s government like Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, just to name a few.

The evening began with seven-year Legion member Carroll Cannon greeting attendees at the door. Everyone was shown where to sit, parents on one side of the hall, legion members on the other, and graduates in the middle. Once everything had quieted down, Post Commander David Flythe gave the opening address. This was followed by the preamble, a moment of silence for all the fallen members of the post, and a prayer by the chaplain, Lottie DeShields. From there it was on to the food and then to the awarding of the graduation certificates.

First to receive their certificates of graduation were the girls. They each took to the podium and told the audience a little about themselves and how they were affected by the experience. Then they received their certificates and returned to their seats. Shelby Livingston read an original piece called “Move Your Feet,” which was a call to not only pray for action but to engage in action as well. The boys took to the stage one by one and recalled their memories of Boys State. Savannah Britt said her most memorable moment was, “Meeting the governor for sure. I was blown away at that.”

When asked what his most memorable moment was, Ellis Cofield III said, “Probably when we had this one meeting in the senate. It was about a bill on banning water. It passed, too. We banned water.”

The night ended with a closing address by the Commander of the State, Linden B. Dixon Jr., where he thanked the kids for participating and taking the time out of their summers to better themselves.

Though the American Legion has been largely responsible for sending these children on this trip, actually plenty since 1971, none of this would have been possible if hadn’t been for the generosity of local sponsors.