Every month I receive emails and letters from students across the state with questions about government or opinions on issues they care about. I enjoy hearing from them and feel blessed that young Arkansans are interested in making the world a better place. These letters are a wonderful reminder of the impact of every decision made by our elected leaders and they often draw me back to why I got involved public service.
Last month I heard from elementary students who asked which U.S. President I admire the most and why. That is a difficult question to answer, since we have had so many great leaders throughout our nation’s history. I wrote back that my favorite president is George Washington. I’m often reminded of his great contributions as I walk through the Capitol.
Washington knew the importance of hard work at an early age and persevered through the hardships he faced, from the death of his father to the lack of schooling. He carried his work ethic with him throughout his life. No job was too small for him and he took every advantage to learn a new skill. He was a successful surveyor, entrepreneur and military leader and set a precedent for our nation’s top leader.
Our presidents inspire involvement. As I often remind students who ask how they can get involved and become President themselves, there is no secret to becoming a participant in the community and government. One just needs to raise their hand and volunteer, or look around for opportunities to help others. From serving on student council, participating in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to volunteering, this hard work helps develop leadership skills and will be greatly appreciated.
Students interested in public service should also consider registering for the Congressional Award program. This prestigious award is the highest honor given to young Americans by Congress and is open to all 14 to 23 year old. Young people are challenged to set goals and carry them out in specific disciplines. Participants achieve recognition based on the goals they set and accomplish and are awarded different certificates and medals based on their level of involvement.
As one Arkansan who earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal said, the program taught him to not give up and continue working toward his goals. The Congressional Award is a great resource that fosters the growth of democratic values and challenges young Americans to better themselves. We can be proud of the Arkansans who undertake this initiative and their commitment to achieving the goals they set. More details can be found on the website www.congressionalaward.org or contact one of my state offices and we can provide you with more information.
As we honor those elected to serve in the White House this Presidents Day, we are reminded of the sacrifice and courage of the people like Washington who laid the foundation for our country and those who strive to make the world a better place today. Building a better tomorrow begins with cultivating the young minds that will lead our country to a successful future.