(Photo by Lucas Carter)

Boys Nation Day 7: Capitol Hill

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Allen El acknowledged that, at least at first, the notion of discussing policy with Sen. Jeff Flake and his staff was intimidating.

“These people do this for a living,” said El. “But they’re very respectful towards how we proposed our policy.”

El and his fellow American Legion Boys Nation senator from Arizona, Joseph Pitts, had the chance to meet with Flake on Thursday as Boys Nation and American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation senators visited Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and staff.

It’s an annual part of the week for Boys Nation and Girls Nation, with the senators meeting up to bring their potential legislation to their representatives in the U.S. Senate. El and Pitts were joined by Arizona Girls Nation senators Priscilla Soria and Amy Zhou.

“It’s just so interesting to see that all the staff and all the people on the Hill … are just able to put aside time in their busy day when they’re on the floor or they’re in hearings to come and talk to us and meet with us,” Pitts said. “It’s a humbling experience because you realize just how much some of these people care about you and how much they care about the future of our country.”

Generally, each quartet of senators has about half an hour to meet with each of their U.S. senators or staff. Rhode Island’s group, including Boys Nation senators Ryder Ferris and Michael Del Sesto and Girls Nation senators Alexy Carolan and Adrianna Turano, met for more than that with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

“We asked him a lot of policy questions, I got to ask him his thoughts on the Supreme Court nomination ... we’re very pleased, it was a once in a lifetime experience,” Ferris said. “I think it just shows how much The American Legion has done for this country as a whole, and our senators recognize this and want to pay it forward and pay it back. Pay it forward in the respect that they are giving us time to know about our future, and paying it back to The American Legion by letting them give this time.”

El said the trip to Capitol Hill helped make the political process more real.

“Often we look at it through the lens of a TV screen or an article on the internet, and the fact that I came here to D.C. to where it all happens is incredible. I got to see it for myself, and the experience was completely different from what I thought it would be, because everyone here is busy, everyone here is doing so much more than what we see on TV,” El said.

More from Thursday

  • The Boys Nation senators also heard from representatives of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. The non-partisan organization’s guiding objectives include closing North Korea’s gulags, opening North Korea’s borders, informing North Korea’s citizens to end their forced isolation, and feeding the hungry in North Korea.

  • The senators met in committees Thursday night as their legislative session nears its end.

Quotable

“It really puts things in perspective. It makes you appreciate what you have and makes you want to help.” – Leonardo Aragon of New Mexico, reacting to the presentation by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

Follow the happenings at American Legion Boys Nation 2018 here on legion.org and on social media using the hashtag #BoysNation2018.


Boys Nation

At Boys State / Nation, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments.

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