Some of the best students at Western Nevada Community College got a pep talk from one of the most noted figures in Republican politics at their annual awards ceremony Saturday.
Lyn Nofziger, press secretary to Ronald Reagan, spoke ardently about freedom and the need to guard it.
"There is danger always in a land where freedom is paramount," he said. "That freedom, a matter of deliberate choice, can be lost."
He said freedom must be guarded and cherished and despite the paths of these students, they will undoubtedly split into two groups.
"There are those who will put individual freedoms and responsibility first, and those who think security is more important even though it means sacrificing freedom," he said. "You need to think about this seriously, because what happens in and to this country depends on you as individuals, members of society, parents and heads of families."
Freedom in other countries is a favor granted by government that can be taken away at any time. In the United States, it is a right, Nofziger said.
"For many years, I've watched government at every level encroach on freedom with a vast number of rules that affect our freedoms every day of our lives," he said. "In some cases, we let it happen and some cases, we demand that it happen.
"If you really care, you need to get involved," he said. "The future, regardless of your path, depends on you. Don't neglect your duty to your country. If you lose those freedoms, you have only yourselves to blame."
One of the best-known conservative political consultants in the United States, the 78-year-old Nofziger was press secretary during Ronald Reagan's presidency. He graduated from San Jose State with a degree in journalism after serving in World War II and began his career as a reporter with the Copley Newspapers in California.
He served in Ronald Reagan's California governor's race in 1966 and after Reagan became governor, became his press secretary.
He was deputy assistant of congressional relations for President Richard M. Nixon in 1969 and in 1971 and that year also became deputy chairman of communications for the Republican National Committee.
He served President Reagan in his 1976 and 1980 bids for president, in addition to acting as special assistant for political affairs in 1981-82.
Semi-retired, he said he writes western novels, book reviews and the occasional political piece in addition to some consulting.
"I chose this topic because I'm not sure anyone bothers to tell them what this country is all about," he said in an interview following his speech. "I'm speaking to them from my personal experience. Not all of them needed to hear this speech, but I'm sure some of them did."
Nofziger was invited to address the gathering by friend and Carson City native Ed Allison.
The United Students Association at Western Nevada Community College honored the following students and faculty at the organization's second annual awards and appreciation banquet Saturday:
Lou Holt, allied health
Damon Haycock, business
John Ballard, computer information systems
Robert Heaton, construction technology
Tom Sinatra, drafting technology
Stacee Cress, education
Cheyenne Dreyer, English
Anthony Arevalo, fine arts
Catherine Boedenauer, foreign language
Justin Ellis, mathematics
Jessica McLennan, natural science
Ann Libby, performing arts
Sharon Stora, social science
Alex Hernandez and Severin Stevenson, honor projects
Christy Sheldon, All-State Nevada Academic Team
Susan Lequerica, Regents' Scholar
Prof. Mike Sady, Regents' Academic Advising Award
Prof. Richard Arrigotti, Distinguished Faculty Award
Dr. Ron Panik, Distinguished Faculty Award
Dr. Michael Costello, teacher of the year, part-time
Prof. Jim Kolsky, teacher of the year, full-time