Senior earns top delegate at Boys Nation

After attending Boys State with 500 other Iowa boys earlier, CFHS senior Jacob Pence was selected to be one of the two delegates from that group to the American Legion Boys Nation.

Boys Nation is an annual event run by the American Legion. It was a week-long program on the week of July 19-27. While there, Pence was selected as the No. 1 Boys Nation delegate by staff and counselors in Washington, D.C., and the National Vice Commander for the American Boys Legion will be in town to make a presentation of a certificate to Pence.

Each year, two delegates in the summer after their junior year of high school are selected from each of the 49 American Legion Boys State programs in the United States (Hawaii does not host a Boys State). These delegates attend the week-long event in Washington, DC.  Pence was selected from Iowa Hawkeye Boys State. Boys State is summer leadership and citizenship program sponsored by the American Legion. Boys are nominated by their history teachers for the summer of their junior year. The program primarily focuses on teaching delegates about state government.

The event teaches delegates about the federal government of the United States through taking part in a mock Senate and mock elections of a Boys Nation senate president pro tempore, senate secretary, vice president and president. Students assume the role of a U.S. senator, representing their respective (Boys) state. They write and introduce bills and debate in the senate chambers. Delegates are split into political parties and draft a party platform as well as perform of usual party duties like nominations for president and vice-president, along with elected party leadership.

While at Boys Nation, Pence was on the color guard and held the offices of chief clerk of the senate, commandant of the Marine Corps, secretary of the federalist platform committee and the secretary of the first committee. While working on the color guard, Pence and  fellow guardsmen received many compliments from the legionnaires and plaques of recognition, and they were given an unprecedented opportunity in Boys Nation history — create a training video for future classes. While performing, they executed motions such as reverse colors, wheels and silent drill movements.

As chief clerk of the senate, he determined the order in which bills were introduced to the floor, read the bills, was the chair of the calendar committee and was in charge of the sergeant at arms of the senate.

Pence was also the commandant of the Marine Corps, where he influenced the president’s military and foreign policies. As the secretary of the Federalist party’s platform committee, he was responsible for designing and creating the platform for the party. Finally, as the secretary of the first committee, he recorded the logs of the discussion as well as organized the sub-committees and the debate.

Pence made many connections while at the program and said he will always treasure the memory. He also made countless friends from across the nation and was confident they would keep in touch throughout their lives whether it be through business or leisure.

While he was not working in the congressional procedures, he was able to tour the monuments, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the White House and the Congressional Offices. Pence was also given the opportunity to meet the president of the United States as well as both of our senators: Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin.

The way Iowa’s Boys Nation delegates were selected was through a series of interviews and selection boards. First candidates had to be selected by their barracks counselor, then they had to fill out a paper application containing their extra-curriculars, academics and a short essay.

From about 50 nominees, the candidates were narrowed down to 11. The remaining candidates went before a 11-man board filled with Legionnaires. The two delegates were selected from there.

“I am very humbled to have been a delegate. It was an amazing opportunity that I will remember for the rest of my life. I gained invaluable knowledge, connections and memories that will most definitely help down the road,” Pence said.

A few nights ago, he also received a phone call from Congressman Bruce Braley offering him a principal nomination to West Point Military Academy. A principal nomination will grant him an appointment to the academy once his candidacy and paperwork have been approved. “I have always been interested in the military, and I plan to major in political science and economics,” Pence said.

He said he also hopes that  after a career in the military, he can get involved in the government and serve as an elected official.

A few extracurriculars that Pence has participated in are internships with Iowa House Representative Walt Rogers, Cedar Falls mayor John Crews and the Community Foundation in addition to school clubs and sports. “The internships definitely helped me in the selection process and provided me with the necessary skills and knowledge to be competitive at Boys Nation,” Pence said.

“I just want to thank the American Legion for all they have done for me. The programs were generously put on completely free and most definitely changed my life.”

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