LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) returned to the place where he started his political career Sunday, the podium at American Legion Jersey Boys State.

The 1969 delegate of the nationwide government-in-action program spoke to the nearly 1,000 rising senior boys at Rider University, professing his love for the program that launched his government livelihood.

“Boys State offers young people interested in public service the chance to meet like-minded students from all corners of New Jersey," Lance said. "I am impressed every year by the young men who participate and hope to serve their country, churches and communities.  I look forward to their questions on current events and issues before Congress and the Nation.”

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Lance’s keynote speech set a charge in ALJBS’s 72nd session opening night, as one of the mainstays of the program continued to challenge the delegation to be better than the last.

Quoting President Abraham Lincoln’s famous address to congress, Lance pleaded with the delegation to make a difference.

“The future of this country is more on you than on me,” Lance said. “If you are 17 and born in 2000, you have an entire century ahead of you. My charge to you is that you will be mankind’s last best hope.”

Lance opened the star-studded speaker lineup for the week. New Jersey U.S. Senator Cory Booker will appear on Monday, while former New Jersey governor Christie Todd Whitman is scheduled to speak on Thursday. Sen. Bob Menendez, along with Lt. Governor and current Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno will deliver graduation addresses on Friday. Former NBA star and current ESPN analyst Jay Williams is also scheduled to speak during the week.