Today our second day of ALA Girls Nation began at the crack of dawn, well actually it was 6:45, but after a night full of new friends, giggles, the beautiful creation of inside jokes, overwhelming excitement and a heavy lack of slumber …6:45 felt very much like a rude awakening from a very short, very deep nap. However, after the walk down the stairs to the flag ceremony all sleepiness had been forgotten and we embarked on the first full day of the opportunity of a lifetime. The flag ceremony set the tone for a day full of patriotism and American pride and nothing feels more American than elections.
Although it seems absolutely impossible, the extremely qualified, passionate and driven young women of our committees pushed themselves even further outside of their comfort zones and began their campaigns for party delegates. With this, the glorious city of Alexandria jump started a winning sweep that should probably go down in Girls Nation History. The two party delegates elected from our city were Kristen Wolfford for the Feds and Kitanna Belnap for the Nats. Both of these champions went on to each be elected Vice Chairs for their respective parties.
The next event in our journey was a wonderful visit from Ms. Mary “Dubbie” Buckler, the American Legion Auxiliary National Secretary. She spoke to us senators and showed us what it means to be a woman of power. She instilled within us a sense of pride and honor and reminded us just how special we must be to be the 98 girls chosen for Girls Nation. We worked hard, we exhibited character, we fought for a cause greater than ourselves and we made it. We made it to Washington, D.C. With this reminder of all that we stand for we boarded buses to pay homage to those who have fought for our freedom.
A sea of lime green flooded the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery and we were welcomed by the heat of a thousand suns accompanied by the confused looks of hundreds of tourists wondering what all of the green shirts were about. We rodes trams through the cemetery to our first stop, President Kennedy’s grave site. From there we were taken to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was so humbling to see such a dedicated soldier defending the souls of the brave. Their identities are known to God alone and they died for us. We were given the honor of being able to present a wreath of poppies at the changing of the guards, just a small token of appreciation for the freedom that they gave to us. From here we were taken to the amphitheater to broaden our views and extend our appreciation for all of the religions represented at Girls Nation.
It was absolutely inspiring to hear the testimonies of our peers and hear their encounters with their faith and the role it plays in their lives. These girls let us into their lives and it showed us just how much our upbringings play in the women we have become. With all of these differing viewpoints we gained a new respect and appreciation for many religions unlike our own.
Once back at the 4H Center the city of Alexandria continued sweeping up Senate leadership positions left and right. Elected to Senate positions were Elena Sokoloski (OH), President Pro Temp; Carlin Deharsh (NE), Assistant Secretary; Molly Dominick (IL), Chaplain; and Abby Hutton (AR), Sgt. At Arms.
This day was one filled with so much knowledge and respect. We were given the chances to thank those who have given their all for us, we were allowed the opportunity to learn more in depth about the lives and faith journeys of the girls we are coming to know, and we began doing what we came here to do: become stronger leaders and learn as much as we can about the governmental system that impacts us.
We began leaving our mark on an already outstanding Girls Nation Legacy.