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Protect the Freedom of "Can"

On February 17th I delivered my first page resolution to our group of high schoolers who had been serving in the Senate for the two weeks prior. This is my message to the young people of South Dakota.

To the pages of the legislative 4th and 5th weeks for the year 2022, the 97th session of the South Dakota Senate:

I think the Senate can concur that this group of pages have excelled. We are lucky that you took the initiative to apply, that you were brave to do something new, and that you were diligent in your time here. You have upheld the high standards of the prestigious page program, and we are lucky to have had you here.

We are all also very lucky to live in a country that is free. As a young adult living in the Unites States you have the ability to decide your future. You are able to choose what you want to do. As you move forward, weigh carefully the advice and opinions of those around you. Heed the input of teachers, friends, and your family, but you must live your life for yourself. People generally regret the chances they did not take, not the chances they did.

And just as you decide what you want to do, you also have the freedom to decide who you want to be. Every day, you cannot control the things that happen to you or the way that people treat you, but you can always choose how you react. In the face of adversity, you can choose to have integrity, determination, and diplomacy. And sometimes it’s not easy. Some days you will be frustrated or stressed, you may feel like you’ve failed, or you may react to someone or something in a way that you didn’t intend to. But here’s the good news. We’re also allowed to learn from our mistakes, and to choose not to repeat them. Sometimes it’s the big things, but it’s also the little things- are you kind, are you respectful, do you always try your best. Because each day, no one else can tell you who you are or decide for you who you are going to be. Somedays you may feel hopeless or like the whole world is against you, or like you messed up and there’s no way to fix it, but I promise you, you are stronger than you ever imagined. No matter how broken you may feel, the sun always rises again on a new day and you can choose to make adjustments in your life that reflect the type of person you want to be. The power is in your hands to choose who you are.

We live in a nation with the freedom of can. You can pursue an education, you can follow your dreams, you can achieve. The only thing I ask is that as you transition into adulthood, you remember your time here, and that we must protect the freedom of “Can” in the United States. Do not lose the passion for the process of policy that brought you here. You can make a difference, you can help people and your communities, and you can protect freedom.

You are the future of the United States, and if there are more in your generation like you, we will be in very good hands.

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