For 80 years, Boys State civic training has taught teenage boys how to meet and pass laws as a model for state government.
If this year’s boys are any sort of model for Texas’ future, state government is in a heck of a fix.
The 1,100 Texas boys chosen by American Legion veterans’ posts voted June 15 to leave America.
Meeting as a mock legislature in the Texas Capitol, Boys State attendees overwhelmingly favored secession from U.S. “mistreatment and captivity.”
With the Washington Post and national news reporters calling it an example of a nation coming apart, two Decatur High School seniors said Tuesday that nobody should take the “Declaration of Texan Independence” too seriously.
“We’re 17 — we were just passing a bunch of bills,” said Ty Watson, chosen to read the proclamation for the House vote.
“It was a big deal because no Boys State has ever passed secession. If any state can do it, it would definitely be Texas.”
There is no indication the boys even gave the topic serious debate.
There’s this little matter of Texas owing $1.6 trillion of the national debt.
If nothing else, the potential loss of national corporate headquarters and military bases should give even the most rebellious Texan pause.
There’s also this little matter of Texas owing $1.6 trillion of the national debt.
Charlie Doubrava, 17, of Decatur, was more direct.
“We were just having fun with it,” he said.
We were just trying to do something that had never been done.
Decatur High School senior Charlie Doubrava, 17
“People are getting the wrong idea. We were just trying to do something that had never been done. … We all knew it wasn’t really something that was good for the nation or the American Legion.”
The Legion started Boys State in the 1930s to promote American freedom in response to Soviet youth training camps. The Legion website says Boys State makes each boy a “better citizen” and promotes “the glorious traditions of this country.”
Legion Texas spokesman Michael Simon told the Austin American-Statesman it’s all an educational exercise: “We don’t tell the boys how to think.” Some Legion posts have complained, he said.
Watson, Doubrava and other Wise County teenagers attended under the sponsorship of Denton County-based Post 71. That’s named for U.S. Army Sgt. Arthur McNitzky, a 36th Division mess sergeant killed in the Meuse-Argonne offensive during World War I.
Watson said he now thinks the declaration was “demeaning” to Legion veterans.
“They fought for the USA,” he said.
“I don’t think they liked the idea of Texas leaving.”
Call it part of the civics lesson.