Thursday’s Boys Nation experiences run the gamut, from a look at real-world politics to a reminder of the horrors of the past.
7:45 a.m. — The buses leave Marymount University to take the senators of American Legion Boys Nation to Capitol Hill where they and their counterparts from American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation will meet with the senators from their state.
And maybe others, if they catch them in the hallways, like North Dakota’s contingent of Raeef Rahman, Dillon Swanson, Iida Lehto and Brianna Maddock, who saw Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and snapped a quick photo with him.
For the most part, however, these meetings are an opportunity for the rising seniors from across the United States get to meet with their representatives in the U.S. Senate, sharing their experience and asking questions.
For example, Louisiana senators Jokobe Mitchell and Emmett McComiskey, along with their Girls Nation counterparts Caroline Finley and Morgan Marullo, meet with Sen. John Kennedy, himself a Boys Nation alum.
“Actually getting to shake his hand and see what his point of view is … it was really cool,” Mitchell says.
The senators from Boys and Girls Nation are thankful for the opportunity to meet their senators.
“I asked him a couple questions … one about health care because in Arkansas we have a problem with our healthcare,” Arkansas’ Tre Jones said after meeting with Sen. Tom Cotton along with Andrew Wiederkehr and Girls Nation senators Ellie Mayberry and Sydney Stewart.
That meeting happens outside a committee room, a necessity on a busy day on Capitol Hill. Other meetings take place in hallways or in the Senate Reception Room.
While on the Hill, the senators also get the chance to sightsee, visiting places like the Library of Congress and Union Station. Over eight hours after the departure from Marymount, Boys Nation is headed back.
6 p.m.—After dinner and the flag lowering, Boys Nation files into Reinsch Auditorium for a special event — Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin is back to share her story.
She’s been coming to Boys Nation for years to talk about her experiences after the Nazis occupied her hometown of Siauliai, Lithuania, in June 1941, when she was 13. Her father died in Auschwitz and Godin was separated from the rest of her family until after the war.
It’s always an emotional telling, one that carries important lessons.
“You have to respect every human being. That’s how we’re going to change the world,” Godin says.
7:30 p.m. — More guest speakers, former Boys Nation senators Dawson Schefter (North Dakota, 2016) and Parker Jackson (Wyoming, 2011), share how their experience at Boys Nation has shaped their lives. Then it’s back to committee work as the senators, with one last senate session scheduled for Friday morning, try to get their legislation through.
One more day for Boys Nation 2017.
Follow the happenings at American Legion Boys Nation 2017 here on legion.org and on social media using the hashtag #2017BoysNation.