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Gov. Daniels visits Trine
Addresses Boys State delegates
A proposed half-hour stop by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels stretched to over two hours Wednesday, as Daniels interacted with American Legion Hoosier Boys State delegates at Trine University.
Entering the Hershey Hall gym to chants of “My man Mitch,” the governor captivated around 600 junior boys gathered to hear his speech at the first-ever Hoosier Boys State on the Trine campus. After speaking for around 30 minutes, Daniels pledged to “go as long as it takes” to answer questions, and then spent an additional 45 minutes signing autographs, shaking hands and conversing with the high school boys.
Trine President Earl D. Brooks II introduced Daniels, who expressed faith in the ability of his young listeners to assume leadership roles and solve the world problems their generation will face.
“Indiana’s future depends on the decisions of people your age and their leadership and maturity,” he said. He placed the blame for circumstances like the weakened economy upon his own generation. He also indicated the students will battle fierce economic competition from young people in India and China.
“The qualities that got you here will serve you as well as us. You will do great things, distinguish yourselves, and leave a mark,” he said. “You are up to this. You are an elite group chosen by someone for your talent and leadership. You will bring Indiana and America back.”
He related some humorous vignettes from his own Boys State days, and told them the relationships they formed that week will resonate throughout their lives.
Students expressed a variety of concerns during the Q&A session. Asked his perception of the country’s expectation for their generation, Daniels pointed to dedication, hard work and responsibility to family as qualities they will require. “Your commitment to math and science and inventions will be important. And you need to be men of responsibility where children are concerned. There are too many without fathers in their lives. To qualify as a man you must pass the test of being fully responsible for the children you bring into this world,” he said.
He responded to concerns about rising tuition costs with the possibilities of making more grants and loans available and offering colleges incentives based upon the percentage of graduates produced.
Light-hearted questions centered on his favorite games – basketball, baseball, football, golf and poker – and what super power he would choose – “X-ray vision would be cool.”
After the governor’s speech, students expressed excitement for their hands-on experience of two-party government during their Trine stay. Chris Reilly of Decatur was installed as lieutenant governor that evening. He spoke of his personal growth during the experience. “Running for office was not something I would have tried, but then I got involved in the speeches and debates. It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s been a really cool experience,” he said.
The American Legion founded the Indiana program in 1937 to offer high school junior boys a hands-on experience in state and local politics and government. It moved to Trine this year after 39 years at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.