TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Sharing the stage with elected officials, gubernatorial candidates and a nationally renowned football coach, Redstone Arsenal's senior commander imparted a leadership challenge to high school boys from across the state.

"Dare to be great. Don't settle for average," said Lt. Gen. Ed Daly, Army Materiel Command Deputy Commanding General and Redstone Arsenal Senior Commander. "Be extraordinary. Roll up your sleeves and go after what you want in life."

Daly spoke to about 600 students from across the state at the 81st annual Alabama Boys State, hosted by the American Legion, at the University of Alabama. During the week-long program, students participated in a mock government by running for elections and joining interest groups. Guest speakers throughout the week included football coach Nick Saban and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones. The university president, mayors, judges and other elected officials offered their perspectives and Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates held debates at the event.

Daly praised the participants, saying selection for this program was a high honor for Alabama students.

"You are here not by chance; you are here because of leadership, because of hard work, because you are motivated, because you persevered, because you are young men of integrity," said Daly. "I want to thank you for what you are going to do for our nation in years to come."

Daly highlighted the Army as an option for the students, telling them how privileged he feels to serve.

"The United States military is ready to defend the country against any enemies foreign and domestic," said Daly. "I will tell you that I am proud to serve each and every day with the best Soldiers in the world."

He also spoke to the participants about leadership, saying it is an action, not a position. He urged them to strive for perfection and accept excellence, as well as have a strong moral compass and integrity.

"Those are the things that will set you apart from others," said Daly. "Those are the things that will get you where you want to be long-term, because let me tell you gentlemen, there is no traffic jam on the extra mile, so set your goals high."

After his remarks, Judge O.L. Pete Johnson presented Daly with a donation in his name to the American Legion Alabama Boys State Coach Aubrey Perry Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to a participant in need to help with college education.