2014 American Legion Boys Nation Senators sit in on an orientation by Mike Buss, Boys Nation Program Director in Arlington, VA on Saturday, July 19, 2014. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion

‘Learning key lessons of life’

The 2014 class of Boys Nation senators heard from the program’s director, Mike Buss, just before they were sworn into office on July 19.

Buss, who has been with the Boys Nation program for nearly two decades, told the 98 high school students that The American Legion is “providing you an opportunity to learn about our federal form of government from some of its highest-ranking officials, and you will learn about it by actually becoming part of it, working through the maze of bureaucratic entanglements that can and do exist in partisan politics.”

The young senators will also learn about themselves during their week in Washington, Buss said, because Boys Nation “is as much a course about personal development, citizenship and character building as it is a study of government.

“I know that you will, at times, experience frustration with party politics, with your fellow senators, and possibly even with yourselves,” Buss said. “But as you struggle with the challenges you are about to face, you’ll be learning key lessons of life – those of negotiation, compromise, team-building, setting lofty goals and objectives, reaching from within, and charting your own personal course for great achievement.”

One week from now, Buss told the senators, Boys Nation will be a lifetime memory, “an experience that is only available to a very select few. But thanks to that American Legion post back home that sponsored you to Boys State, it has been made available to you. Seize those opportunities, make the very most of them.”

Buss introduced the senators to the Boys Nation volunteer staff on hand. “Those who will be helping you, guiding you and, when necessary, encouraging you – those who will guide you for a week and change your lifetime.”

On July 20, the senators will hear from Richard Anderson, chairman of the Legion’s National Americanism Commission.

Marymount University has been the home of Boys Nation since 1986. Last year, The American Legion honored the university at its National Convention in Houston for its longtime support of the program.