By U.S. Senator Mike Lee
One of the great privileges of representing my fellow Utahns in the United States Senate is the annual opportunity to meet the exceptional young men and women from the great state of Utah who have answered the call of service by applying to the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Under Title 10 of the United States Code, each year members of Congress are authorized to nominate a number of young men and women from their district or state to attend the country’s service academies. It is my distinct honor to nominate 14 exemplary Utahns this year.
But receiving a congressional nomination does not guarantee acceptance. To be admitted, each applicant must meet—on his or her own merits—the academies’ rigorous standards.
I have studied the applications of 14 men and women and I can say, without hesitation or exaggeration, that you would be hard pressed to find a more accomplished, talented, patriotic group of American citizens anywhere. I was not surprised to learn that all 14 applicants have been accepted and will soon be joining the ranks of our nation’s military academies in the summer of 2016.
Each of these 14 students is of sound mind and body. This will serve them well in Colorado Springs, West Point, Annapolis, and Kings Point. But to succeed, they will need more than this.
The journey on which these young men and women will soon embark requires more than mental and physical aptitude. It demands strong moral character—leadership, courage, honesty, prudence and self-discipline. Above all it calls for a steadfast commitment to service and a love of country.
I would like to recognize and congratulate one academy nominee hailing from Morgan County, who embodies in his own unique way the standards of excellence on which America’s service academies are built.
Jacob Abraham Rice, from Morgan High School, will be attending the Air Force Academy. An attendee of both Boys State and Boys Nation, he also served as president of the National Honor Society, president of Empowering Youth to Prevent Suicide, and captain of the track and field team.
Jacob was co-captain of his speech and debate team and in 2015, he was named the MHS’s Forensics Sterling Scholar. He used his music skills to play violin for patients at Primary Children’s Hospital and the Pine View Transition Rehab Facility. Jacob serves as a board member of the Young Democrats of Utah.
It has been an honor and an inspiration to meet and to nominate each of these exemplary young men and women. Doing so has given me an unshakeable confidence in the future of this great nation and the future of our armed services.
But to these 14 students, and to all their future classmates from around the country, do not forget: this is but the beginning of your journey.
You would not have arrived at this point were it not for your hard work and sacrifice. But now what matters most is not your accomplishments of the past, but what you have yet to achieve in the future.