Calvin Isch would like to believe that his good grades, community service and participation in American Legion Boys State helped earn him the Samsung American Legion Scholarship two years ago. But the truth is, “that’s just not the case. It was because of my grandfather (Hubert Isch) who answered the call and served in the Korean War,” said the 19-year-old Isch of Bluffton, Ind., to attendees of the Legion’s National Children and Youth Conference Sept. 15 in Indianapolis. “He was patriotic and he fought for our freedom. Unfortunately, my grandpa passed away the year before I attended (Hoosier) Boys State so he never got to see how far his service paid for me personally. I know that he would be so happy and proud that I got (the Samsung American Legion Scholarship) for his service.”
Isch is one of nearly 2,000 students who have received the scholarship since Samsung bestowed a $5 million endowment to the Legion in 1995 for the establishment of a scholarship fund for family members of U.S. citizens who are war veterans. The Samsung American Legion Scholarship is available for high school juniors who participate in the current session of Boys State or Girls State and are direct descendants (or legally adopted children) of wartime veterans eligible for American Legion membership.
Isch attended Hoosier Boys State in 2015 and said if he had to describe the program in one word, it would be “awesome.” Among many things, during the week-long program Isch said he learned how the state and federal government works, gained more insight into the military, was instructed on how to properly fold a U.S. flag and made lifelong friends.
“I woke up early every morning to the sound of a trumpet. I enjoyed that way more than my alarm clock believe it or not,” Isch said. “What goes into the military is something I never got to appreciate until I went to Boys State.”
The Samsung scholarship helps pay for room and board, tuition and books, and for many recipients it has allowed them to choose the college of their choice.
Dallas DeBruin, a 2013 American Legion Ohio Buckeye Boys State alum and Samsung scholarship recipient, told conference attendees that the scholarship allowed him to choose the University of Dayton. “Because of Boys State and the Samsung American Legion Scholarship, I gained the confidence to be who I am and have the freedom that many students do not. I have the freedom to not worry about the super high cost of college because I have this great scholarship,” said DeBruin of Greenfield, Ohio. “And I have the freedom to know that there are people out there willing to help. The American Legion family is one that I can always rely on.”
Besides his participation in Boys State, DeBruin earned the scholarship thanks to his grandfather’s military service in the Korean War, which he was honored for during the Department of Ohio’s winter conference in 2013. “It very much brought my grandfather to tears,” DeBruin said.
Isch is a sophomore at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he received a full ride from the Samsung scholarship and others he received. Having no college debt allowed Isch to travel through Europe this summer. During his travels, he had one big takeaway that he shared with conference attendees – “People all over the world still love America. So many people I met said they couldn’t wait to visit America; they love America and want to be here. We are still this great country.
“I want to say thank you to all of you. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to go to Boys State. I know many of you have stories like my grandpa and have impacted people in ways you will never know. You have been a hero to many people, and I want to thank you so much for keeping our country free and keeping it the amazing place that people still want to go visit."