Dear Texas Legion,
Your 2020 American Legion Texas Boys State (Virtual) was a fantastic success! Thank you for innovating with us to give the 2020 cohort of young men a true “learn by doing” experience they deserved.
This note is longer than preferred, but we wanted to share as much as possible (in addition to what we shared during the program last week), should you have interest in reviewing.
In no particular order:
1. Historic. The 659 Statesmen had an amazing experience, and I find it very difficult to share how it all went in a way that captures how special this was, on many levels. No other Legion organization on the planet has done what your Texas Boys State just did.
2. The People. There are two main reasons this program was so successful: (1) the amazing crew of volunteers that gave thousands of hours in preparation and execution; and (2) you sent high-quality Statesmen. There were 164 sponsoring Posts this year.
3. Elections. Please see the attached PDF, outlining the main elected positions and other honors, including Boys Nation and scholarships. The list shows Posts and Districts as well.2020-Texas-Boys-State-Electees-Other-Honors
4. In Their Words #1. Please see the attached very poignant email from one Delegate to his sponsoring post. Powerful. What you do at the Posts matters so very much. Thank you for what you do.Statesmen-Appreciation-to-Legion-Post-178-Email-note-14-June-2020
5. The Store. Your first-ever on-line store has been a huge success. $13,500 in sales thus far! Again, volunteers made this happen. HUGE thank you to Gerry Hince, John Hince, Gary Flenniken, Scott T. Armstrong, and Matthew Armstrong. This money helps us ensure your TXBS program survives, flourishes, and improves.
6. Swag! Should you have any desire, you too can purchase TXBS swag! The store will be open until the end of June. https://store.texasboysstate.com
7. Media. There should be another published article on your cutting-edge Texas Boys state by week’s end in the National Legion Times. We will share once it is released.
8. Helping the Team. We have had conversations with our Arkansas Boys State brethren, sharing our methods for success, learning points, and best practices as they prepare to do a virtual program. We will also meet tomorrow on Zoom with American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation folks to also share.
9. Support. Thank you to the DEC for permitting us to get our hands dirty, bloody-knuckles style, and just get this virtual mission done this year.
10. Pure Joy. It was AWESOME to see so many of you join in during Legion Night last week, for that special evening of festivities. Wonderful to see all those faces as you logged-in! The National Commander joined us as well and he had a fabulous time being part of the special night where we honored the Legion and service-above-self.
11. Colleges. Thanks to the unbelievable efforts of Chuck and Rachael Faith, we even had 20 colleges represented at our Friday-morning college fair! Each school had its own specific room in WebEx (our online platform) where the Delegates (and parents) could visit and talk with the respective school reps. Amazing!
12. No Escape. Your TXBS executive committee prefers to quietly just do what their heart calls them to do. However, this time, they cannot escape as I take a brief moment to list them by name and thank them publicly. There is no way I can possibly tell you how much they do and the profound way in which they do it. For now, please permit me to thank them by means of this note across the entire Department. This is an EXCEPTIONAL crew of people that give of themselves so deeply–in random order: Scott T. Armstrong; Kreg Bryant; John Lemley (40 years!); Gary Flenniken; Daren Brabham; Mark Mayer; Chris Wurtz; Tim Borths; Stephen Pennington; Aasim Saeed; Sawyer Knight; and Travis Arreaga. And a special shout-out to LTC(R) Jerry Cheatom and Lucas Turner for their special efforts this year with counselor training.
13. Guest Speakers. There were too many superb nightly Visiting Dignitary and big plenary session guest speakers to list here. Rest assured, the Delegates were challenged by our guests and had the opportunity to glean all sorts of wisdom about a great many things. See #16 below to hear from a Statesman on this specifically.
14. The Delegates. Some of you might enjoy the data in the attached PDF called “TXBS Data.” You’ll see some information about the 2020 cohort, including what issues were most important to them when we queried them before the program. Note on slide #8 the large “My” indicates that “my” was used most by the Delegates when answering who they admired most . . . “my dad,” “my mom, “my coach,” . . . etc. Someone personal to each Statesman. The relative size of the other names inside the Texas shape indicates the frequency of that person being mentioned in the Delegate replies.TXBS-Data-2020
15. A Few Photos. A number of photos are attached for your enjoyment (the name on the photo file indicates what it is). Note the “mashup” one in particular. A few of our counselors, with truly amazing skills, “mashed” together the individual videos of many Statesmen and counselors singing along with individual members of the band across the state playing the Texas Boys State song. In the end, the video was a masterpiece . . . and we actually thus “assembled” the Boys State band. We will place the mashup on the website in due course for you to see it for yourselves. Note, too, on the swearing-in pictures, Judge Kevin Yeary in the top part of the photos. Judge Yeary helps us make all official each year when Delegates formally take their positions!
16. In their Words #2. In addition to the attached note, here are another Statesmen’s thoughts:
“I’d like to start off by thanking you for this amazing opportunity you gave me. I’m extremely pleased with my experience at Texas Boys State even though it wasn’t conducted at UT Austin. I still had the opportunity to make amazing friends who share the same drive that I do. Texas Boys State gave me the opportunity to learn more about the process of our government such as bill making and elections. I served as a member of the House of Representatives and was also a temporary platform committee manager. Aside from these responsibilities that taught me a variety of skills such as leadership and accountability, what I enjoyed most about the program is the guest speakers. The guest speakers were amazing and their stories inspired me to be the best citizen I can possibly be. The speakers also taught priceless lessons that I will never forget. One of the commanders that spoke told us that his friends died in combat so that we(people of America) can live our life to the fullest. These words made me love my country and state even more and made me grateful for the opportunities I have. All in all, my experience at Texas Boys State is one that will never be forgotten. Once again, thank you so much.”
17. Your Help. (1) Please continue to identify and send us the very best talent from your local areas. That is the most important work. The high caliber of the Statesmen is key to success, always. Thank you, in advance, for all you will do at the ground level for the 2021 Texas Boys State. (2) Please share with us the future successes of all your sponsored Delegates. As they move on through their lives and share with you, please further share with us. (3) Help get more Legion Posts involved in sponsoring Statesmen!
On behalf of the entire TXBS Executive Committee, our infinite thanks for your continued support of this program that really impacts lives.
Casey Z. Thomas
Chairman, American Legion Texas Boys State