American Legion Boys Nation 2017 began in earnest on Saturday, as the delegates became senators, discussed legislation and elected a president pro tempore and secretary.
A busy morning
8 a.m. — After breakfast and the flag-raising ceremony, the delegates convene in Marymount University’s rec gym where they’ll meet as the senate for the week.
Program Director Mike Buss congratulates the 98 delegates on their selection to Boys Nation and reminds them of The American Legion’s history, as well as the program’s reflection of the Americanism pillar of the Legion’s foundation.
“The key word here is opportunity,” Buss says. “The American Legion is providing you with that opportunity. What you do with it is up to you.”
9 a.m. — C-SPAN marketing specialists Vanessa Torres and Christina Whirl talk to the delegates about the network and how it can be a resource to them this week and in the future.
Torres notes that some past Boys Nation events are available to watch in C-SPAN’s video library. They include several speeches to the program by President and former Boys Nation senator Bill Clinton.
Whirl also encourages the delegates to look into C-SPAN’s StudentCam competition, which encourages students in grades 6-12 to create a 5 to 7-minute video documentary related to that year’s theme. The upcoming 2018 competition’s theme is “The Constitution & You,” with the students choosing a provision of the Constitution and creating a video illustrating its importance to them.
10 a.m. — Federalist Party Counselor and Georgia Superior Court Judge Joe Bishop administers the oath of office, officially inducting the delegates into the Boys Nation Senate. Nationalist Party Counselor Joe McCraith discusses the senate rules, Legislative Administrative Assistant Tim Aboudara Sr., points the senators to where their legislation is online, and Senate Counselor Jerry Kinder discusses the voting procedures, which for the second year in a row will be done via electronic clickers.
One thing, though: two senators don’t have working clickers.
At Texas Boys State in June, the House approved a resolution to secede from the United States. But junior counselor Ben Schafer introduces a resolution to reject that secession.
“Senators, as we are gathered here today, it is important to recognize that we are one great United States of America and one great Boys Nation. Therefore, I would encourage all of you to vote yes on this resolution such that the gentlemen from Texas will be seated and recognized as full members and full senators of this Boys Nation senate,” Schafer said.
The resolution passes 52-44. Texas is back in. The state’s two senators, James Mills and Garrett Smith, receive their identification cards and their state flags, held back pending the resolution, are placed in front of them.
“Most importantly, I have some batteries for your clickers,” Schafer tells them. “Welcome to Boys Nation.”
Senate Assistant Counselor Wells Ellenberg reminds the senators, “Gentlemen, it was important that we have a full and functioning Boys Nation senate and we did like to have some fun to get started with. I will say that the more seriously you take this process, the more quickly we will be able to get our bills and resolutions to committee and ultimately to the full senate for debate and vote.”
Just before breaking for lunch, the senators begin to introduce the bills and resolutions they prepared before coming to D.C.
A busier afternoon and evening
1:15 p.m. — The party conventions begin, with the party chairs being selected. Bishop and McCraith remind the senators that the finite amount of time available means decisions have to be made quickly.
The senators also elect convention secretaries, and each party’s convention chair — Nationalist Ryan Long of California and Federalist Kaden Stenger of West Virginia — appoints a convention clerk, parliamentarian, sergeant-at-arms and timers. They also appoint five members each to the rules committee and the platform committee.
From there, the senators are assigned to committees. With only one week to conduct their business, it’s impossible to have a committee reflecting each committee in the U.S. Senate. So at Boys Nation, there are just four committees, each assigned bills which would normally be assigned to specific committees.
6 p.m. — Rain cancels the evening’s flag-lowering ceremony, sending the senate straight from dinner into the nominations for president pro tempore and secretary. The president pro tempore race begins with 12 candidates and ends with the election of Federalist Corey Eisert-Wlodarczyk from Pennsylvania.
In between the elections, Past National Commander Dale Barnett talks about the power of The American Legion. “You don’t know the opportunities that will be open to you because of the power of The American Legion,” he tells the senators. He shares the story of Alan Landers of Florida, who as a first-grader founded a Superheroes Fun Run in Pinellas Park which has raised over $40,000 in four years for the Honor Flight of West Central Florida. With that as inspiration, Legislative Director Mike Bredeck asks the senators to write down something they want to achieve, because they’re not done when the week comes to an end.
Six nominees vie to be the secretary of the senate; the election is won by Daniel Meaney of Connecticut, also a member of the Federalist Party.
The senators wrap up the day with appointments made by Eisert-Wlodarczyk and Meaney and some more committee work.
Follow the happenings at American Legion Boys Nation 2017 here on legion.org and on social media, #2017BoysNation.