MIDDLETOWN - Wendy Kurtz had posted a picture on Facebook of her daughter working on a Republican campaign during this past election cycle.
Kurtz then received a call from her daughter asking to have the picture taken down, so she wasn’t seen associating the GOP.
It’s something young Republicans are feeling, Kurtz said, in not being able to speak out about their beliefs.
“We have to do something to unite this generation...because you’re bigger in community, right?” Kurtz said in an interview.
On Saturday, at a family residence in Middletown, the Warren County Young Republicans hosted an event bringing conservatives aged 18- to 40-years-old together. It was organized, in part, by James Bergida, chairman of the Warren County Young Republicans.
With home cooked food, cotton candy from Tim Ratigan, ice cream from C & C Treats in Front Royal, and music from Mark Woodward, the event featured several speakers involved in politics from throughout the area.
State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, was among those who spoke, sharing that children may not be fully interested in the politics discussion around the dinner table, but they do listen.
“We’ve got that opportunity to stand up, to empower our children and our families and encourage them to be courageous, to stand up for what they believe in,” Obenshain said. “And not to be afraid to speak the truth.”
Warren County Board of Supervisors member Delores Oates, representing the North River District, spoke about the power she felt when she visited Washington, D.C., on field trips.
“These young people require investment,” Oates said. “We need to invest our time in helping them. We need to invest our time in giving them the strength and courage to stand up for their convictions.”
Former Front Royal Mayor and Town Manager Matt Tederick invoked the courage of 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence as their calling from God.
“If these men were willing to sacrifice so much for their freedoms, for their liberties, for their rights, what are we willing to do?” Tederick said. "Get involved, stay involved."
Hillary Horner, the vice chairwoman of the Young Republicans, explained to the crowd that a “Younger Republicans” group for 13- to 17-year-olds is looking to be formed, so when they become voting age, the party has strong members.
"The issue here is education," Horner said.
John Massoud, chairman of the Republican Party’s 6th Congressional District Committee, said better leadership from current Republicans is needed to get young Republicans involved, adding that they need to increase voter turnout to suppress any doubt about the integrity of elections.
As part of the day, an exercise was held for young children demonstrating that a candidate who offers free everything, including candy, will cost money and isn’t as appealing as they seem at first. A candidate that wants to defend freedoms was a more appealing candidate, according to the message conveyed by the exercise.
Amber Morris, who is treasurer of the Warren County Republican Committee, said she will be seeking endorsement from party members in the special Town Council election in November.
Candidates for the Warren County Board of Supervisors were also in attendance, along with representatives from the gubernatorial campaigns of Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder and a representative of attorney general candidate Jason Miyares.
Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney John Bell and Treasurer Jamie Spiker, were also in attendance, as was State Rep. Michael Webert, R-Marshall, and a representative from the office of Del. Bill Wiley, R-Winchester.
The event allowed Gordon Horner, 26, of Front Royal, an opportunity to speak his mind freely without repercussions, something he said may happen at work with different-minded people.
“It’s nice to be out here with like-minded people,” Horner said. “When I’m out working, when I’m not around other like minded people, I typically tend to keep my point of view to myself. It’s kind of nice to be able to share that...get it out there.”
Chatting with Horner was James Kosten, 22, who said he also enjoyed the opportunity to speak his mind freely about his political beliefs.
Both of them said they would like to see former president Donald Trump run again, as he didn’t bow down to anyone.
Unlike other conservatives, like Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who may be "wishy washy" in their stances, Trump “isn’t bought” and sticks to his guns, Kosten said.
“They’re main goal is to get re-elected,” Horner said.
Eleanor Horner, 23, sister of Gordon Horner, said she is hopeful of the future for young Republicans as people around the country are becoming energized after fearing to speak out about their beliefs with what they see on social media.
She too would like to see Trump return, saying of the Republican Party, “I would be so happy if it stayed with Trump.”