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American Legion Ernest A. Love Post 6

PRESCOTT‹The past met the future Oct. 25 when the members of American Legion Ernest A. Love Post 6 recognized the leaders of tomorrow‹the young men and women who attended Boys and Girls State this past summer.

The two girls and four boys that attended the dinner in their honor are part of a long tradition.

Fred Lindquist has served as the legion's Boys State chairman for 30 years and Leona Proper has served as the Girls State chairman for 26 years.

Proper also is part of the Arizona Girls State 30-plus all volunteer staff. The University of Arizona always hosts Girls State and Boys State is at Northern Arizona University.

The melding of past and present was evident with the introduction of Legionnaire Jack Stabie, who was a delegate to the 1952 New Mexico Boys State.

"I am surprised at how similar the activities are today as then," Stabie said. "Boys State was an experience I have never forgotten."

Lindquist said a group of engineers from Illinois created Boy State in 1934 after returning from a trip to New York City. The men saw young men walking around the city in brown uniforms with swastikas.

The men knew they had to do something to promote the knowledge of U.S. government.

Lindquist said 49 states participate in the Boys State program.

Proper said three Prescott High School girls and three alternates were selected to attend Girls State 2006.

Danielle Wetten and Neka Pike thanked the American Legion for the opportunity to attend Girls State.

Wetten said what she learned about the government process has helped her in her classes at PHS.

Pike said the young women attending Girls State were "all amazing women. They were so intimidating. I learned a lot. Even though I was not elected to an office, I got to watch how government works."

Listening to John Vanuk, Will Jersa, Nathan Irwin and James Gray talk about their Boys State experience, it appeared that they learned how to establish a government and perform government jobs the hard way.

Boys State officials, for instance, gave Gray the job of highway patrolman when he first checked in. They instructed him to write a lot of tickets. What he didn't realize was that at the end of the week, he would have to argue all those tickets in court.

Any one wondering whether the future of the United States is in good hands need look no further than Chris Horton.

Horton, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, attended Colorado Boys State in 2004. His peers elected him to attend Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. the same year, and this past summer he returned as a junior counselor. He will go back again this year.

Horton said Boys State and Boys Nation taught him about politics, leadership and government. He said it solidified his desire to enter politics.

Contact the reporter at prhoden@prescottaz.com

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