Senator urges students to work to improve state

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WESSON – State Sen. Charlie Ross spoke to the state’s best andbrightest Sunday night at American Legion Boys State, telling thedelegatates that loving Mississippi means trying to make it abetter place to live.

The assembly, which was held at the auditorium on theCopiah-Lincoln Community College campus, kicked off a week ofactivities to help the students learn about government andpolitics. Also on the agenda, high-ranking public officials andothers will address the young male leaders from all over thestate.

“Boys State is a superb leadership program and the young men inthis room make me very optimistic about Mississippi’s future,” saidRoss, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

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Ross, of Brandon, told the group of his time in the Air Forceand his education at Harvard Law School, and how there were timeshe wasn’t sure he could handle the pressure.

“‘I can’t do this, I’m just a little old boy from Mississippi,’I thought,” he said. “But what you learn here in Mississippi willhelp you out there. Work hard, keep your nose clean, and there’snothing you can’t do.”

Ross urged the young men to remember the meaning of Memorial Dayand those who had come before to give them the rights they havetoday.

“They allow you to worship, to speak freely,” he said. “Theyguard all that and are ready to give their lives in defense ofthat. The question arises, ‘Are they heroes?’ Well, they didn’tthink so at the time.”

Ross then challenged the group to be worthy of that duty done byAmerica’s soldiers of all generations.

“How do we honor that sacrifice? We make America better,” hesaid.

He said the job begins in their home state.

“My wife and I moved back to Mississippi because we love it, andwe wanted to raise our kids here,” he said. “I want to make itbetter. That’s your job, my job, and the job of everyMississippian.”

Ross went to great lengths to impress upon the young men theimportance of voting.

“People will die for your right to vote, so the very least youcan do is go vote,” said Ross, receiving an ovation from the crowd.”If you vote, I’ll listen to anything you have to say becauseyou’re my boss. But if you don’t care enough to vote, why should Icare enough to let your opinion matter?”

Ross, who co-authored the Castle Doctrine bill with HollySprings’ Sen. Ralph Doxey, spoke to a question from JarrodArmstrong, of Newton County, about the right to keep and beararms.

“Law enforcement can’t be everywhere all the time,” he said.”Law-abiding citizens should have access to firearms if they sochoose, and felons shouldn’t have them at all.”

He also extolled the current leadership in the state, sayingGov. Haley Barbour set an example for the whole country duringKatrina.

“Gov. Barbour showed us all how important strong leadership isafter Katrina,” he said. “I’ve never been so proud to be fromMississippi.”

He also extended the praise to the members of the Legislature,both Republican and Democrat.

“Their vision for Mississippi may not always be the same asmine, but the motivation is the same,” he said. “I love thiscountry, and I love Mississippi, and I want to see it grow and getbetter. Period.”

And finally, he spoke highly of the people of the state, againreferring to the events of Hurricane Katrina as a watermark.

“We’re a tough, resilient people here, and character matters,”he said. “And I’ve seen our citizens get to work to make changes asopposed to whining about it like others might do.”