YAF National Conservative Student Conference 2010
Although at the Young America’s Foundation’s National Conservative Student Conference I heard countless speeches on the turmoil of our great nation and how we as conservatives can fix it, one statement in particular stuck out to me. Mark Tapscott, the Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Examiner, said “[Reagan] was a politician who could be trusted—such a rare thing.” That statement made a significant impact on the way in which I reflected upon my time at the conference.
The YAF National Conservative Student Conference is a week-long summit held on the campus of The George Washington University in Washington, DC. This summer it was held from August 2nd through the 7th. While at the conference, the few hundred students in attendance spend the days attending speeches of notable conservative movers and shakers in the American political and business worlds. Each night is a wonderful dinner banquet where we hear from a special guest speaker. For our final dinner banquet on Friday night of the conference, we were treated to dinner at the Ritz Carleton with Fred Thompson as the keynote speaker. This year was my second YAF conference, but I still managed to learn just as much about the promotion of conservative ideas as I learned at my first event.
A recurring theme in many of the speeches we had the pleasure of hearing was the legacy of Ronald Reagan. A little humorous to me was the response to merely hearing the name Reagan spoken of during a speech. With every “Reagan” came huge applause from the student audience. I am not just talking about a part in a speech crescendoing with Reagan being the last word of a sentence either. The mention of Reagan may have even come in the middle of the sentence, yet conservative students from all across America would stop in applause. My amazing Texas friends even had a count going of the number of times Reagan was said each day. That number was pretty high! Even though I thought that it might be a little excessive to clap at each voice of the name Reagan, I would smile and clap just as much as the next person. Ronald Reagan was truly a great President and he should be remembered as such.
Ronald Reagan had a way of mobilizing the youth. His commitment to excellence was show through his leadership. YAF calls us as young conservatives to follow Ronald Reagan’s style of activism. Perhaps one of the most important concepts provided to conference participants was the Conservative Battleplan created by Patrick Coyle. Knowing about conservative principles is nothing if you do not work to combat leftists. I am so excited to implement the 9-11 Never Forget Project on Drake’s campus this fall! Going to a college with a fairly liberal mindset is a challenge, but with the help of YAF it is easy to get involved in a way that makes a significant impact.
One thing that I have learned through my life experiences is that learning at conference is very beneficial, but the people you are around are what make the experience memorable. This year at YAF I made a conceded effort to reach out and meet everyone around me. I cannot express enough how much better that made my conference than the year before. Last year, I met quite a few people but did not get to know them nearly as well as I was able to get to know the incredible students in which I was acquainted this year.
My favorite experience from the YAF conference was the final night of my stay in DC. After a long week, some of my new friends and I had decided to spend a relaxing night at the hotel just taking, but after a while we decided to go do something a bit more exciting. We took a walk to the Washington Mall and spent about four hours that night visiting all of the monuments. Most breathtaking was the Vietnam Memorial. As I stood staring into the field of soldiers at the memorial, I could not help but feel my eyes start to water. Seeing physical structures representing the soldiers made me stop and think about those who have put their life on the line to secure freedom. The socialism that this country to sprinting toward needs to be hindered or we will never be able to preserve the freedoms intended by our founding fathers.
In Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he said, “and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” I know that with young leaders in the Young America’s Foundation, we can preserve that freedom; however, it is going to take Reagan’s style to make it happen. We can create other honest politicians, but it is our obligation to make it happen. Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is not passed down in the bloodstream. Every generation has to fight for it!”