Stater Becomes a Citizen – Historian Project

By: Hunter Parks, Jake Inthavongsa, Christian Eckhardt, Wallace Wilkins III, William Mahr, Edward Olander

Early Life 

Santiago Giraldo is currently a Boy Stater for the year of 2019 and is a citizen of the town of Valley Forge, recently obtained his Citizenship on June 4th, 2019. Santiago was originally born in Medellin, Columbia. He moved to America in 2011 when he was ten years old with his family in order to pursue a new life. He ended up moving to Cambridge, Nebraska. His family moved to Cambridge because it was a smaller town and they wanted a more peaceful life. He had to adjust to the smaller town since his old town Medellin has a population of over a million while his new town has a lesser population of 2000.

Road to Citizenship

Santiago had to be in the United States for 5 years and be eighteen years old in order to be able to formally begin the process of becoming a citizen of the United States. On February 4th, 2019 he officially began his journey to citizenship. The process first began by sending in an application (with a lot of paperwork) with nine-hundred dollars. He then had to wait for his application to either be approved or denied. Thankfully his application was accepted and he moved to the next step to citizenship. He had to be scheduled for an appointment in order for his biometrics to be recorded and checked. He then waited  until he got a reminder for his citizenship test, which would occur on June 4th, 2019. Santiago was nervous at first, thinking about his test since his hometown of Cambridge is four hours away from the Embassy in Omaha, where he had to take the citizenship test. Luckily he had plans to go to Boys’ state which would move him to Lincoln during the week of the test. He was able to go to the citizenship test during Boys’ state. The citizenship test includes a written portion which is a 10 question test. To pass you only need to get 6 questions right along with a written and oral exam to test how much you understand the english language. Santiago passed the test with flying colors and only had one step left in order to become a citizen. The Ceremony.

Citizenship and Boys’ state

A ceremony for citizenship typically is held a different day than the citizenship test but Santiago was lucky and the ceremony was held on the same day of the test. The ceremony started with the pledge of allegiance. Santiago had to wait in a line that was slowly called up in order to gain his documents of citizenship. He felt anxious but was very excited. When he got called up he was ecstatic.  Once he received his documents he was extremely overjoyed that he was now officially considered a citizen of the United States of America. Once he returned to Boys’ state he was congratulated and welcomed back by many Boy Staters and counselors with open arms, seen as a fellow citizen of the greatest country in the world.

Historian Interviews with Nebraska American Legion Members at Boys’ State

By: Hunter Parks, Jake Inthavongsa, Christian Eckhardt, Wallace Wilkins III, William Mahr, Edward Olander

The American Legion does so much for our veterans. From providing a place to serve and a place to feel welcome after they return from active duty. They have made many programs not only benefiting veterans but also the youth. Three of the veterans involved are, Bill Montz, Doug Boldt, and Dennis Kennedy.

The Legion was founded in September, 1919, reserved as a patriotic veterans organization. It started as a group of U.S. Vets and turned into one of the largest non-profit groups (, was founded originally in Paris, France on March 15th, 1919. It was founded to improve troop morale. Later, on November 10-12 the official adoption of the American Legion Constitution. Later, the name “American Legion” was officially adopted May 8-10. The legion has many active members, each with unique and fascinating stories on how and why they got involved in the Legion. Here are a few of their stories.

Doug Boldt was born Callaway Nebraska. He joined the Navy in 1967 and was deployed in 1969 and reached the rank of Petty Officer Third Class by the end of his service. Doug was a military barber for the U.S. Navy. Doug served on 2 different ships within two years. He spent time on both the U.S.S. Arlington and the U.S.S. Niagara Falls. The U.S.S. Arlington was a communications relay ship that was involved in the Apollo 10, 11, and 12 missions. The U.S.S. Niagara Falls was a Mars-class combat stores ship that is known for its service in the Vietnam War. The U.S.S. Niagara Falls was also one of many ships dosed in agent orange. Agent Orange is a defoliant that was used in the Vietnam war that contained many toxic chemicals which has many negative effects and it kills basically anything it touches. Doug Boldt was discharged in 1970 and became involved in the legion in 1976 after he saw the negative effects of Agent Orange on many of his fellow veterans. Doug Boldt did not attend Boys State but both his son and his brother attended. Doug Boldt also became the first Vice President of Boys state and is member boys state standing committee. Throughout his years Doug has seen how technology has changed Boys state in a positive light which has helped improve the speakers’ presentations.

Bill Montz, from Lincoln, Nebraska is a retired Coast Guard Auxiliary, Air Force and Air Guard in technical rescue. A type of rescue dealing with any rescue not falling into a normal procedure. The main goal of technical rescue is to “remove them from harm or remove the harm from them”, in Bill’s words. Some examples being falling down missile silos or mine shafts. One of his more recent missions he was involved in placing him in the burn unit for twenty-one days after saving two people from an explosion. His opinion on the legion is that it’s one of the best ways to serve the state and the nation. Veterans are taught to serve and even after they leave that obligation does not. He said about why many vets served: “Generally, most veterans that are mentally and physically able to serve have a desire to serve. And the American Legion is a good place for that.” One of the most salient things Bill said was over what the Legion rested on, being: God, Country, and Youth. When I asked him on why he joined Boys’ State he gave a relatively simple answer, The Adjutant asked Bill to serve, he said it was a good gig. It’s his third year serving and he’s been enjoying it thoroughly. To close it out, I’ll leave you with something Bill said about his service to Boys’ State. “ They keep calling me back, so I must be doing something right.”

Dennis Kennedy, seventy-two, from Culbertson, Nebraska. After serving in the Vietnam War for four years, his Uncle suggested joining the American Legion. He postponed for many years until just recently and has enjoyed much of what the legion has done for him. His rank was staff sergeant when he left the military. His service was recon, he went out on many flying missions. Previously he did not know much about Boys’ State and the Legion, but he cared deeply about Veterans and the youth. This last year marked the 100th birthday of a good friend of Dennis’s who was a WWII veteran and his towns legion birthday. To celebrate both they made a float commemorating the veteran and legion with the WWII veteran being the guest of honor on the Legion’s float. This was the last gift the veteran was able to receive from the community before he passed away soon after.

The Legion has a vast and varied history, from its founding, its newly created programs, and its older, very helpful and ongoing commitments. To its amazing members, with their very unique and admirable stories of their service and beginning of their membership. And their dedication to teach and make sure that the leaders of tomorrow are well informed and ready for the next step in their lives.

Alumni Impact

Ben Blumenthal, Nobel Rai, and Nathan Franz

Boys State is a truly unique experience where one week can change a lifetime. While hundreds of go-getters are admitted each year, some Cornhusker Boys State alumni have proven themselves to be especially remarkable, including Riley Knust, Alec Wiese, and Ben Sasse.

    Riley Knust, was the 2017 Cornhusker Boys’ State governor. Going into the elections Riley already had prior campaigning experience, was part of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at his school, and knew tons of people going into the week, all of which he feels gave him a leg up. However it wasn’t all easy sailing for him, Riley experienced some struggles on his path to governor. During some question and answer sessions, Riley says he had a lot of dumb answers and a lot of “I don’t knows”. However he was able to learn from these failures and was able to run a successful campaign for governor. At the end of the day Riley said he just tried to be himself, and tried to be as genuine as possible. Riley is now considering a career in politics, has a newfound respect for public officials, and made some long lasting friends, all because of his week at Cornhusker Boys’ State.

    Alec Wiese attended Boys State in 2010. While there, he ran for the office of Lieutenant Governor. While he didn’t get the role, he still got involved and was able to learn many lessons from his experience. During Boys State, Wiese got out of his shell and learned the importance of risk-taking. He made many friends at Boys State and to this day, maintains relationships with some of the people he met. One piece of advice he would give to high school students our age is that you have to be able to find a good balance in life, and that you have to learn how to keep that balance in order to make it through high school and college. Today, Alec has started his own company and says the idea for his company was born out of speculation as to what kind of meat was in the twenty-five cent tacos he was enjoying with a friend. The friend said it was probably bug meat, and that’s what led to the idea to put insect protein into the foods we eat. Alec’s goal for Bugeater Foods is to help feed the world’s growing population with a sustainable source of food and expects the company to start reaching into developing countries that are in need of a better food source.

One of the most well-known Cornhusker Boys’ State alumni is the current junior Senator for Nebraska, Ben Sasse. Sasse was governor of Boys’ State in 1989, and he learned here that it is important to be able to learn from the wisdom of qualified adults and apply that knowledge to our daily lives. Like Alec Wiese, one of the Senator’s favorite parts of the program was making lifelong friends, some of which he still keeps up with to this day. He attended Boys’ Nation afterward, and there he met many high achievers that drove him to better himself. The lives of all three of these men have been shaped positively by the experience Boys’ State has provided them. It is truly “ a week to shape a lifetime”.

Boys State Variations

by: Matthew Wachtel

There are forty-nine different Boys State programs across the country that gather annually to educate rising seniors about their local and state governments. Each Boys State offers unique daily activities and hosts differing numbers of delegates. I interviewed Ben Lipson, from New Hampshire, and Yosua Siguan, from North Carolina, both of whom were Boys’ Staters in 2017 to learn about their experiences and compare it to my own.

First, a few similarities between the three. Cornhusker and New Hampshire Boys State both send their delegates to their state capitol building at the end of the week. North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys State have town, county and state elections. North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys State both have at least one sport. All three have newspapers to depict daily events. Beyond the daily activities of these Boys State programs, one major similarity between all three, that both Yosua Siguan and Ben Lipson touched on, is the massive gaining of knowledge and experience in the realm of politics and leadership. I, myself, can relate to this sentiment as Cornhusker Boys State has taught me a great deal about Nebraska issues and what form of leadership best fits my personality.

Next, the differences between the three. Cornhusker Boys State is actually the last state that holds joint sessions with its American Legion Auxiliary counterpart, Cornhusker Girls State. Also Cornhusker Boys State has four sports whereas North Carolina has just basketball and then New Hampshire has none. New Hampshire has 78 delegates attend, North Carolina has 250 and Cornhusker Boys State has 450. North Carolina Boys State has a speech contest. Additionally, before attending North Carolina Boys State you have to write a bill whereas at Cornhusker and New Hampshire Boys State you write bills when you get there. At New Hampshire’s program one big job of the executive office after they are elected is to pass a budget whereas North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys’ State both don’t pass a budget. The North Carolina session bills pass through a house and senate legislature then it must be approved by the governor and his cabinet. This is in contrast to the Cornhusker Boys State unicameral system.

Boys State programs differ throughout the country. In my interviews I learned that while they all might be different in certain aspects and the same in others they are all unique. The American Legion continues to politically socialize the youth of America and through their Boys State programs, young men from around the country can attest to the success of this mission.

A Look Back – James Moseman

Kevin Butterfield

A Look Back at Former Governor James Moseman Boys’ State Experience

Governor of the 2015 Boys State, James Moseman, used hard work, prior experience, and sheer determination to get him to the top. James has come back to mentor Boys Staters ever since the end of his high school career and he had many interesting stories to tell about his own experience at Boys State.

Mr. Moseman’s desire to run for Governor started long before he even set foot at Boys State. In his hometown he was an active member of the Nebraska Governor’s Youth Advisory Council where he was given the opportunity to travel to Lincoln and consult the Governor of Nebraska on what he thought would make the state better. This made Mr. Moseman have a better understanding on what the Governor was all about and he knew that he had a good chance to run and win for Governor. When he arrived at Boys State, Mr. Moseman was placed into Gettysburg and he had a town to rally behind him with full support for his ambitions to run.

As the campaign got into full swing, Mr. Moseman had quite a bit of fun getting to know everyone at the camp, and getting to argue with other candidates during the debates. The debates were quite formal and even though his opponents did not agree on many things, they were able to, “agree to disagree” and move on without any bad blood. Mr. Moseman had some formidable opponents to beat if he wanted to make it to the top, one of which was Christopher Zenn, who was an Alamo candidate who Moseman knew was well-versed in politics and had a good chance of beating him, but luckily Mr. Zenn was beat out, and James Moseman was able to stay afloat with his hometown supporters.

Mr. Moseman knew how to campaign, and since he was a part of a “Re-Elect the Senator Campaign” that was taking place in his hometown not too long before Boys State, he had fresh experience on making advertisements, and speeches for campaigns and he was more than prepared to utilize his prior knowledge and the knowledge of his supporters to get what he thought was the “winning edge” in his campaign. When the final ballot for the Governor campaign came in and James Moseman was elected as the Governor of Cornhusker Boys State 2015 he was overjoyed. He could not believe that he had accomplished his goal of becoming the leader of the Boys State.

Ever since 2015, Mr. Moseman has been coming back to Boys’ State to support the program through helping with the newspaper team each year. Next year he will be the head supervisor of the newspaper team and is excited to help at Boys State for, “Decades and decades to come.”

James Moseman put in a high amount of effort to get the position that he strived for in Boys State. The main thing that one should take from James’ story is with determination, self-confidence and experience (a tinge of luck wouldn’t hurt either) you can accomplish your goals