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U.S.: Young U.S. Radio Host Says, Until 9/11, Nation's Youth Had 'Never Understood What Sacrifice Meant'

New York, 2 September 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Ben Ferguson is a 22-year-old syndicated radio talk-show host in the United States and the author of a book called "It's My America Too: A Leading Young Conservative Shares His Views on Politics and Other Matters of Importance." He is also one of the youngest voices in the Republican Party.

As such, he was an eagerly anticipated speaker at a special Youth Convention held on 1 September at this week's Republican National Convention in New York. Some 2,500 young adults were expected to participate in the event.

Ferguson spoke earlier on 1 September with RFE/RL correspondent Nikola Krastev about Republican politics, young people, sacrifice, and his speech later that day in New York.

RFE/RL: Ben, can you tell me, what is the defining principle for your generation? I would assume that these are people who were born after the launch of MTV in 1981. So, you are one of them. Basically, what is the defining principle for these young Americans?
"I don't think the war on terrorism is ever going to end. There are going to be victories, but I don't think that war is ever going to end."

Ben Ferguson: The defining principle was made evident after 9/11, and that's going to be -- for our generation -- fighting the war on terrorism and trying to keep America safe and keeping other parts around the world safe. We've understood the American dream, but we've never understood what sacrifice meant. We never understood what it meant to fight for what you believe in.

RFE/RL: Those people who were your age during the Vietnam War period, one of their major credos was, 'Don't trust anyone above 30.' So what happened? What is your stance on this?

Ferguson: The reason the Vietnam War went so wrong is because people didn't trust anybody. You've got to be trusting. You have to be smart enough as a person to understand that no matter what age, you can always learn from people who are older. You can learn from the elders. With me, I say a lot of times, we need to shut up and listen to those who have gone before us and learn from history, learn from history's mistakes!

RFE/RL: What is the level of awareness among your peers about political events, globalization, news and the media in general?

Ferguson: It used to be slim to none, and now it has started to pick up. There are two issues that my generation cares about, and this is what I wrote about in my new book, is the fact that you've got the war on terrorism and who is going to be in charge of sending [U.S. troops] overseas to fight this war. Because I don't think the war on terrorism is ever going to end. There are going to be victories, but I don't think that war is ever going to end. We are always going to be fighting terrorism, I think, from now on. And the second issue is the economy. We are starting to pay taxes now. We are starting to see how much money the government takes, and we want to have a say-so in that. And we think a lot of times they are taking too much. And if they are going to take that much, then represent us, represent the young people in this country.

RFE/RL: You are selected to speak at the convention tonight. So what was your reaction when you learned about this assignment?

Ferguson: I was excited. I started in radio when I was 13, and so for me it was like, it was just kind of exciting to finally be recognized and realize that all the hard work of the last 10 years of my life has paid off. I'm not really nervous. I'm excited about it. I can't wait to do it, and it's something I'll never forget. Definitely...sitting in the audience in the convention, it was kind of a shell-shocking moment for me just to say, 'Wow, I really am privileged to be able to do this!' And I came from a normal family, a normal background. My dad wasn't a politician. My mom wasn't a politician. They didn't have lots of money. They didn't give money to politics, and I made it without any of that. And it just shows you that the American dream is alive and well in this country.