When they hear "Taps" playing, senators Matthew Hall from Kentucky and John O’Brien from New York will forever be taken back to the fourth day of their Boys Nation week.
Hall and O’Brien got the rare opportunity to lay a Boys Nation wreath at the base of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday as part of the senators’ visit to the hallowed grounds where countless veterans and military heroes have been laid to rest.
Hall and O’Brien were accompanied by National Commander James E. Koutz and a uniformed tomb guard during the procession, which was followed by a trumpeter playing "Taps" to honor all the U.S. servicemembers who have died without being identified.
"That’s 30 seconds that will truly last the rest of my life," O’Brien said.
The two were picked randomly from the 98 senators who are attending the 67th session of Boys Nation. Hall first caught wind that he’d been selected when a Boys Nation official told him that a senator from Kentucky was going to get to participate in "a great honor."
At first he thought he might be in trouble, but he eventually realized what he’d been chosen to do when his name was called as one of the two who’d get to participate in the ceremony.
"It was just butterflies in my stomach," Hall said. "I had never been to Washington. I’d always wanted to go and I have always heard such great things about the honor guard here."
O’Brien reacted with similar surprise. He heard the name John called as one of the two who’d get to participate in the ceremony and didn’t let himself get his hopes up until he confirmed that his last name followed.
"Once I was sure it was me, I was just so happy and honored and looking forward to experiencing that moment," O’Brien said. "…We’ve all heard ‘Taps’ a lot, but that is definitely the one ‘Taps’ that will stick in my mind the rest of my life. The setting, everything, people playing it, it was truly special."
O’Brien, who comes from a military family and hopes to enroll at the Air Force Academy or West Point, gained an even stronger appreciation for the military.
"I already had immense respect (for the military), but that just took it to a whole new level to see what they do 24 hours a day every day (at the tomb)," he said.
Boys Nation legislation can be monitored online
As a new feature for this year’s session, all bills introduced by Boys Nation senators can be monitored online on the Boys Nation legislation page.
On the page, an electronic tracking system keeps track of every bill written by every senator attending Boys Nation. Listed in each entry are the bill’s author, bill’s number and bill’s status.
The page stays up to date through the week-long Boys Nation session, listing whether bills have passed committee, passed senate, vetoed or entered into law. When a bill is entered into law, a PDF of the legislation becomes available to the public.
Parties select presidential, vice presidential nominees
Both parties at the 67th session of Boys Nation ended Monday night – the session’s fourth day – by voting candidates for the two leadership positions in each party: president and vice president.
Representing the Federalists in the presidential race will be Simeon Toronto from Minnesota and Aidan Byrnes from New Jersey for the vice presidency.
The Nationalists voted Joshua Toch from California as their presidential candidate and Zachary Faircloth from South Carolina as their vice president candidate.