“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Remember being asked that question? Remember all the possibility at the other end of it? Anything you could dream about, you could be. But as adults, we know that question is about more than choosing a career. It’s about aspiring to be better than we are. It’s about seeking greatness.
As we shape our next generation of leaders, that’s what we have to keep in mind: we’re not just molding minds, we’re building character. I often reflect on that when I’m spending time with young men and women across the First District. It’s one reason it’s so important that we elevate our military and civilian heroes, so that the next generation has something to aspire to.
Several days ago, I hosted a town hall for Vietnam Veterans in Stafford to talk about some of the obstacles our Veterans face when seeking the medical care and benefits they’ve earned. And it struck me that these are the kinds of men and women we need to hold up as examples to our children and grandchildren. They’ve served their country on the battlefield and then at home in their communities—they’ve lived lives of selflessness—and they deserve answers. It’s long past time for the issues at the VA to be resolved, and I will continue to work to make sure our Veterans are getting the heroes treatment they deserve.
I also had the opportunity to spend some time at our Upper District Academy Nomination Reception with a group of men and women who aspire to that same level of honor and achievement. Life at our military service academies is full of rigor, but those institutions have produced some of the finest leaders in the world. The young men and women I met last week are seeking out that challenge, not shying away from it. The Commonwealth is home to many of the nation’s best and brightest students. I trust that our service academies will nurture in them a spirit of leadership and sense of honor.
Last week’s visit to Stafford High School further solidified my belief that our young people have the creativity and determination to lead us into a brighter tomorrow. I took a look through the student newspaper, The Smoke Signal, and I saw a student body full of journalists, artists, writers, and soon-to-be academics. It’s so encouraging to see that kind of civic engagement at such a young age. I also sought to inspire their artistic abilities by challenging art students to participate in the Annual Congressional Art Competition. The winner from the First District will have their artwork on display for one year in the U.S. Capitol.
As we look toward the future, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about what we should be doing to make tomorrow a little brighter. I look forward to seeing you out and about in the First District. May God bless you, may God bless our great Commonwealth of Virginia, and may God Bless America.