All this past week, I've been letting Lucy do the talking. Eric and I were pleased that she was able to attend the Young America's Foundation High School Conference in Maryland.
Let me be perfectly clear: Yes, we are unapologetic Conservatives.
I won't belabor the point by explaining (yet again!) that my family had to flee our homeland because of the communist takeover. America, founded on Christian principles, is the best place to live on the planet. And along with passing our Christian faith to our kids, we also want to pass on our Conservative values.
So here's Lucy, once again to finish the narrative of her trip, sharing about who she met, what she did, and what she learned. Thanks again to the staff of YAF for all your hard work and for everything you do to pass on the values of freedom to the next generation.
Little Goose to Mothership
Day 2: June 24th, Thursday.
Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of National Review and a columnist for Time, gave his speech about diversity, tolerance, empathy, compassion, morality, and the distorted understanding of these terms.
After a quick break, we heard from Tim Goeglein. He analyzed the relationship between culture and politics, ideologies compared to lifestyles, and the importance of family values and morals, especially where politics are concerned. He also encouraged us to follow our vocation.
A few deep breaths later, Bay Buchanan took to the podium and, to put it plainly, blew us all away. She was passionate, enthusiastic, and mildly… extreme. She talked about abortion, equal rights, and touched upon the subject of "political correctness." Quite interesting. Indeed, she woke me up (I mean this as truly as it can be meant; I have no shame in admitting that I had been nodding off for the past hour. No offense to the previous speakers.)
– Lunch. It happened. –
Back to the conference…
Kirby Wibur gave us an enlightening message about the presence of faith and the Christian religion in US history, supported by the references that the Founding Fathers included in the Declaration of Independence. He discussed the connection between faith and freedom, the separation of church and state, and virtue going hand in hand with liberty. We received a pocket-sized Constitution. (SCORE!)
After he stepped down, Kate Obenshain commandeered the microphone and explained the three basic things we should remember when discussing politics (or any topic) with our peers: Graciousness, Integrity, and Courage. She encouraged us to be humble and to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Extremely motivational and quite amusing.
And then… 'lo and behold… Jason Mattera walked in the room. The attention of the entire room was now completely fixated on the Editor of Human Events. The focus of his speech included the comparison between the two political parties, the global warming scare, and some delicate (ahem) criticisms of our current President. He talked about the presidential campaign and how effective the media is when it comes to politics.
He signed my book.
There was some time to gather our thoughts and relax before we went downstairs, well-dressed and smelling nice, for the next dinner banquet. After we had eaten, we heard from Steve Moore. I'll tell you right now: economics has never made so much sense. Income tax, revenue, budget, monetary policy, you name it, he explained it in the simplest of terms.
The night was late, I took my laptop downstairs to the lounge to upload photos and chat with you.
Thursday is over.
– – –
Friday, June 25th:
Dr. Burt Folsom Jr. (from Hillsdale College no less. Go figure.) gave us the history lesson of the month. Now, for someone who barely passed US History, I was actually… interested. So odd. Anyhoo, he discussed John D. Rockefeller and the oil industry, along with Cornelius Vanderbilt and Robert Cunningham (and all the steamship nonsense they were involved in at the time). I have his signature in my book. This pleases me.
Brief break, some questions were asked, and we were introduced to Dave Bossie, president of Citizens United and Citizens United Productions. He defined the conservative movement, discussed getting back to core beliefs and talked about how the media has become a very biased outlet for inaccurate information.
Next up was Michelle Easton, founder of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. She took her time to discuss role models and encourage the young independent women in the conference to become leaders in their community. Very inspiring and very humble.
After this speaker, we were privileged to enjoy a "girls only" luncheon with Mrs. Easton and a few of her interns, during which we were able to discuss and ask questions about our principles and values as young women.
The lunch was eaten. We trudged back into the conference room (willingly, but still. you get the picture.) and sat down. Donal Blaney took a few minutes to introduce the next guest, Mark Clarke, the Outreach Director for the Young Briton's Foundation. As soon as that man opened his mouth, there was an audible gasp from the young ladies in the room.
Oh. My. Word… he has a British Accent.
I have no shame in admitting that all of us girls were absolutely captivated for the rest of the session. I mean… come on. Don't judge. We were still listening.
Clarke's speech was abundant with amusing anecdotes about the "ridiculous" system of government and healthcare he had in his country, as well as some solemn observations about how frightful the government could really be. He compared the two political parties and posed a question: "When is the state ever the best answer?" He also talked about institutionalized religion and "tolerance."
Dr. Burt Folsom Jr. returned to speak to us about "Big Government Solutions" and gave us yet another history lesson, this time about Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, FDR, Andrew W. Mellon, and Andrew Jackson. His talk covered income tax, consumerism, the redistribution of wealth, federal spending, unemployment rates over history, and so on.
Soon, the Vice President of Young America's Foundation, Patrick X. Coyle, gave a speech about conservatism on college and high school campuses, and what we could do to create an active presence in our academic community. I scribbled down some shocking points in my notebook.
By this time, we're all getting slightly restless. We began listening at 9am, with some small breaks, and it was now almost 4 o'clock. Patience and focus were waning. But we only had one more speaker left. And they kept us well caffeinated. So that's good.
Last, but definitely not least, was Rebecca Hagelin. Her speech focused on the relationships we develop in our lifetimes, our need for a role model, how we could develop and strengthen our core values, the challenges we would face throughout our lifetimes, and the importance of self-education.
She talked to us about becoming strong-hearted individuals while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This was, I think, one of the most inspiring speeches. I bought her book, which she dedicated to me and my mother. (You're welcome, Mom.)
(I just realized how much I love parenthetical statements.)
I met up with my roomies and we headed back to the room to change into casual clothes. Skirts and blouses are fine, but for 8 hours? Level of Comfort: relatively low and dropping quickly. I felt human again in my jeans.
Thus began our twilight tour of Washington DC. World War II memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial.
Everything's prettier when the sky is pink and there's a nice breeze. On the way up there, the gang in the back discussed the flaws in our system of government, argued among themselves about ethics, and defended the values and views of… you pick.
High School students. Politics. What's wrong with this picture?
Oh, fun times! We sang the National Anthem outside of the Lincoln Memorial. First time: Security guard came around and yelled at us to stop singing.
A student walked up to him and calmly explained that we were well within our 1st Amendment rights to sing a patriotic song in front of the memorial.
The security guard left. We sang it again:
Others joined in and then applauded when we had finished.
God bless America.