Miss America 2018, Cara Mund, will pass her crown on to a new Miss America on September 9, but before she relinquished her title, the lifelong American Legion Auxiliary member and former Girls State and Girls Nation participant made sure to visit the 2018 American Legion World Series to share her message.
“The American Legion and The American Legion Auxiliary have played a huge part in my family. My grandpa was the department commander for the state of North Dakota,” said Mund, whose grandmother, mother, aunt and cousin were all Auxiliary members before she was born. “My family knew as soon as I was born that I, too, would be a member of The American Legion Auxiliary.”
While at The American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C., Mund met with families of recently deployed soldiers and spoke to the crowd about empowerment.
“It is important for me to be at The American Legion World Series because as Miss America my voice matters,” the North Dakota native said. “I first learned that through my experience with American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State and Girls Nation. I want to give back. I want other young individuals to know the power of this organization and know what it can give you to prepare you for the world.”
In addition, Mund threw out the championship game’s ceremonial first pitch alongside then-National Commander Denise Rohan, who was the first woman ever to be named National Commander of The American Legion.
Mund was excited to meet with Rohan as the two had a similar message over their respective one-year terms. “I am the first Miss America from North Dakota and my future goal is to be the first female governor of North Dakota so to be out there with another female role model who has accomplished a ‘first’ is really empowering," Mund said.
Mund, 24, gave glowing reviews of her time in The American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls State and Girls Nation programs, as well.
“Girls State gave me the opportunity to connect with women across the state of North Dakota, and when I got elected to go to Girls Nation, it was the first time I got to serve as a representative of North Dakota, which was great preparation for Miss America,” she said.
“To an individual who is considering Boys State, Boys Nation, Girls State or Girls Nation, my advice is to do it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I look back fairly often on how that one week at Girls State and Girls Nation really shaped me into the person I am today and how the experiences I had there have been able to apply far beyond that. My experience at Girls Nation and Girls State made me realize the power of my voice and the ability as at a young age to make a difference.”
The program also helped Mund decide on a career path.
“The experience at Girls State and Girls Nation fueled my desire to go to law school and really proved to me the power of my voice. What I learned with my experience with The American Legion Auxiliary is that politics and government aren’t about arguing. They are about finding justice and finding solutions to some of our biggest problems and it gave me confidence knowing that at 17 years old that I could think of an answer that could solve it. With that passion and experience I have since applied and will go on to law school.”
The experience also showed Mund the value of her membership in The American Legion family.
“It was a week-long experience but I left with memories that will last a lifetime. I learned at that point why it is so important to be a member and why we continue to support our troops and veterans. The fact that I became a member when I was just 20 days old is something that I’m really proud of and it’s crucial to get involved in organizations like this.
“I’m so proud to be an American Legion Auxiliary member and to have American Legion roots within my family. I know that as Miss America this is just a launching pad for what comes next, but the experiences I had with The American Legion Auxiliary and The American Legion has prepared me that much further to be a leader in today’s society. The fact that an organization like The American Legion exists gives me such pride.”
As The American Legion nears its centennial, Mund added, “The fact that The American Legion is turning 100 years old just proves its relevance and importance in society and we continue on we are going to continue to need that support for our troops and for our nation.”