For additional highlights from day two of Boys Nation, click here.
Boys Nation senators awoke Saturday to bright sunshine that lead to a 100-degree day. But thankfully, the senators survived the heat, as Saturday's activities allowed them to be inside.
After raising the U.S. and Boys Nation flag, a daily routine performed by senators, the young men attended orientation. Orientation, which was addressed by Jill Druskis, Boys Nation program director, and Past National Commander Robert Turner, director of activities, educated the young men on the objectives, rules and traditions of the program.
"Shakespeare said, ‘All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players,'" Turner said. "What you do on stage here is going to shape your future, our future, the future of Boys Nation and the future of our country."
Mike Canfield, diirector of Undergraduate Admissions at Marymount University, also addressed the senators during orientation. After giving a warm welcome, Canfield emphasized how Marymount University has been home to American Legion Boys Nation for the past 24 years and that many past Boys Nation senators have attended and currently are attending the university.
Following Canfield's presentation was a vital component of the program, the legislative section. To speak toward the topic was Peter Gaytan, The American Legion executive director at the Washington office, who also administered the Boys Nation Oath of Office to the senators.
Gaytan oversees the national legislative portfolio for The American Legion and because of this he discussed legislation and gave senators an insight into the Legion's legislative process of lobbying for issues affecting veterans and their families. He provided a few successful examples the Legion has had with lobbying, such as the GI Bill.
"The American Legion has the strength and initiative to affect change on our own," Gaytan said. "The GI Bill would not have happened without the effective lobbying of The American Legion. I explain this example of how effective you can be when you want to make positive change."
Immediately following his speech, senators raised their hands and Gaytan answered their multiple questions. More importantly, Gaytan didn't leave campus empty handed. While he was dressed in a suit, Turner gave him a 2010 Boys Nation shirt. The next time Gaytan speaks to Boys Nation senators, he can mirror their image.
Toward the end of program orientation, Turner and the junior counselors led the 98 senators into singing a few patriotic songs, such as "Show Your Colors America." The young men will sing more patriotic songs during their time here, including "American Chant," "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "God Bless America."
The senators also attended orientation on senate committees and legislation. In the Boys Nation senate there are four committees, and each one has a variety of bills for consideration. The senators chose their committee of choice and are encouraged to prepare a bill or resolution for introduction into the Boys Nation senate. The following are the four senate committees and their bills:
Committee one: Agriculture, appropriations, armed services and banking
Committee two: Budget, commerce, transportation, energy and natural resources
Committee three: Environment, public works, finance, foreign relations, government affairs, Indian affairs and intelligence
Committee four: Judiciary, rules, veterans affairs, health, education, labor, small business, ethics and aging
An exciting event that took place in the afternoon was the Federalists and Nationalists conventions, where party platforms were set up. Senators ran for a variety of offices, such as convention chairman, secretary and chaplain. For all opening positions, the candidates were allotted three minutes to speak on why they should be elected for their office of choice and what they will do if elected. The senators within the four sections - Adams, Washington, Madison and Jefferson - held caucuses before casting votes. Candidates could withdraw after each ballot, as multiple ballots were casted until a candidate won by 45 votes.
"I had a lot of fun at the party conventions," said John Geiger a Federalists from Chatham, Mass. "It was great being with my section (Jefferson) because we are becoming very close, almost like a brotherhood."
The final event for the evening was the first senate session, where a president pro-tempore and a secretary were appointed. The president pro-tempore runs the Boys Nation senate in the absence of the vice president, a respective position that will be appointed on Tuesday and aired live via www.legion.org.
Sixteen senators ran for the president pro-tempore position and were allotted two minutes for their campaign speech. After all speeches were presented, caucuses were held, candidates rallied for themselves and each of the four sections tallied their votes for the ballot casting. When the results came in for the last two candidates standing, the floor was silent as the senators waited in anticipation to see who would attain the title of president pro-tempore. The silence broke into a loud applause when Joseph Kieklak, a Nationalist from Fayetteville, Ark., was elected.
"Just to have the faith of the majority of the gentleman here, a majority of the wise, chosen ones by The American Legion, is a huge honor," Kieklak said. "One thing I hope to accomplish by being president pro-tempore is to run a smooth senate and to try the best I can to make sure I have everything in order for when the vice president takes over."
The same election procedure took place for secretary of senate, and the senator appointed to the position was Ryan Low, a Federalist from Rancho Palos Verde, Calif.
The senators were to have a memorial service this morning, dinner at Greenbelt Post 136 in Maryland and an evening walk around the National Mall.