By Shelby Sanchez, Texas

Staff Writer

What is opening session? Is it a time to discuss the rules of the mountain and fire evacuation, or is it more than that? Opening session has as many interpretations as to its ultimate meaning.

In my eyes, opening session is when we, the delegates, become the states we represent; more importantly, we become ‘The United States’, the future of this country.

For those who are new to the mountain, you may agree with Michael Kmetz from the Republic of Texas who believes, “it was neat to feel like [you] were a part of something much bigger than just [your] individual views,” In other words, a welcome. An amazing experience that is widely felt by any and every individual who is fortunate enough to attend any past, present, or future Conference On National Affairs. However, feeling welcome, though an amazing bonus, is not the purpose of opening session; a realization Kmetz has come to , “It’s not so much about feeling welcome, but accepted for who you are and your beliefs.”

Kathryn Yuill, of Wisconsin, a CONA veteran, sees a more enjoyable side of opening session. “I love watching all the flags come in and the music is great!” Though when asked to discuss the feeling of her final year, and even more specifically her last opening ceremony, her response was that she’d rather not think about it yet, a feeling with which I’m sure every person who is living through their last CONA experience can agree. Yuill continues, “I am a completely different person than what I used to be, and I attribute that majorly to this conference,” Veterans understand to a deeper extent the life-changing effects that CONA’s events, such as opening session, have on every individual. This week’s opening session was no different; it touched the lives of all present and provided an excellent start to the week’s coming activities.