Friday, July 12, 2013

American Legion Boys State & Girls State

Every summer, high school juniors from around the state of North Dakota, gather for a week of civics known as North Dakota Boys State and North Dakota Flickertail Girls State.  Indeed, students gather in every state, half the students assigned to one political party and half to a second party, usually Nationalists and Federalists.  Students set up and elect city, county and state governments via conventions and elections.  Two United States Senators are chosen from each Boys State and each Girls State to attend Boys Nation and Girls Nation in Washington, D.C.  It is terrific fun, and America owes a great debt to the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary, which have been running these Americanism and Youth programs since the 1930’s.  Former North Dakota Boys Staters include Coach Phil Jackson and North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer, now Chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.  Many a leader had his or her start as a Boys Stater or Girls Stater.

This summer, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation was delighted to send Theodore Roosevelt to Boys State in Wahpeton and Girls State in Grand Forks to entertain and inspire the nearly 300 delegates, counselors and volunteers involved in the two programs.  In his own youth, our Theodore Roosevelt reprisor, Joe Wiegand, was elected Governor of Illinois Premiere Boys State and President of the American Legion Boys Nation program.  “The American Legion gave me scholarships for college,” says Wiegand, “and I have always wanted to give back and help the Boys State and Girls State programs grow.  Besides, there may have been a real future Governor, Senator or President among those young men and women.  It was truly an honor.”  Wiegand says citizens can contact their local American Legion Post for ways to support the programs.
Medora’s Theodore Roosevelt with the officers of North Dakota Boys State, held at North Dakota State College of Science at Wahpeton. Left to Right – Neil Litton, Director (Fargo); Christian Anheluk, Disaster Emergency Manager (Belfield); Jordan Beattie, the Senate Pro Tem (Pembina); Deane Bjornson, State Auditor (Cavalier); Andrew Brummond, Superintendent of Public Instruction (Park River); Benjamin Trenne, Attorney General (Grand Forks); Ray Salata, Governor (Grand Forks); Col. Theodore Roosevelt; Erik Hanson, Lieutenant Governor (Grand Forks); Brandt Vernon, Secretary of State (Hazen); Trenton McCloud, State Treasurer (Rolla); Ryan Nelson, Public Service Commissioner (Casselton); Trevor Boehm, Agriculture Commissioner (McClusky).  Mr Salata and Mr. Anheluk were elected to represent North Dakota as it two United States Senators at the American Legion Boys Nation program held July 19-26 in Washington, D.C.

After a visit from Medora’s Theodore Roosevelt, the Flickertail Girls Staters held their elections on the campus of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.  The results: Governor Hayley Lund – Crosby; Lt. Governor Morgan Mathison – Walhalla; Secretary of State Bethany Brumbaugh – Cavalier; Auditor Hannah Colemer – Forman; Treasurer Hannah Krauter - West Fargo; Attorney General Katelyn Osland – Fargo; Commissioner of Insurance Kendal Hendrickson – Cando; Commissioner of Agriculture Abby Braaten – Wyndmere; Tax Commissioner Kara Smith – Buffalo; Public Service Commissioner Anne Hefta – Hazen; Public Service Commissioner Anna Rand - Park River; Public Service Commissioner Kady Rath – McClusky; Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Strube – Dickingson; Supreme Court Justice Kaytlin Werth – McClusky; Supreme Court Justice Julia Hartz – Cavalier; Supreme Court Justice Raechelle Salzer – Ashley; Supreme Court Justice Jessica Mastel – Wahpeton; Superintendent of Instruction Tyrza Hoines – Bismarck.  North Dakota’s United States Senators headed to Girls Nation are Hayley Lund of Crosby and Hershita Gaba of Fargo.  Girls Nation will also be held in Washington, D.C. from July 20-27.

While Joe Wiegand continues to tour the state and the nation performing as Theodore Roosevelt and as a Goodwill Ambassador for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, you can still find him in Medora, every Monday through Saturday, in a one man show, “A TR Salute to Medora,” at 3:30 P.M. Mountain in the air-conditioned Old Town Hall Theatre in downtown Medora through September 6.  On Saturdays in July, from 1:00 to 2:30 P.M., Wiegand will also be performing and signing copies of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1913 Autobiography at Medora’s Western Edge Book Store, 425 Fourth Street in Medora. On Saturday's in August, from 9:00 to 10:30AM, Wiegand will greet visitors at the South Unit and Painted Canyon National Park Visitor Centers.