Senior Haley Hall gets hug from POTUS

Greene County senior Hailey Hall biggest wish for her Girls Nation experience in July came true, and then some.

Before going to Washington DC for Girls Nation, which is sponsored by the American Legion auxiliary, she said she’d be very disappointed if she didn’t get to meet President Trump.

She not only met him, but he gave her a hug, “because I was crying,” she told Jefferson American Legion, VFW members, and scouts of Boy Scout troop 534 Monday evening.

Hall was in Washington July 22-29, while the White House was being renovated. The group didn’t get to go inside the White House, “but it’s still amazing to go into the Rose Garden. Barely anyone gets to go in that close,” she said. It was in the Rose Garden that she got her presidential hug.

The “work” of Girls Nation includes debating bills submitted by the participant senators. Hall and her co-senator from Iowa, a girl from Dubuque, wrote a bill dealing with reforming the Veterans Administration. The bill passed by a vote of 87-5, the largest margin of any bill there, Hall said. The last three years the bills submitted by Iowa senators have passed, a record she’s proud of.

Other highlights of the visit included hearing a Holocaust survivor speak and visiting the Holocaust museum. “You read about it in history books or you see documentaries, but getting a first-hand perspective and hearing the stories of what she went through is quite heartbreaking. It really shows how easy our life is, that we never had to go through anything like that. Hopefully no one has to,” she said.

They also saw the Twilight Tattoo, an hour-long pageant that depicts U.S. history through the eyes of the military.

Hall said the only real pre-requisite for Girls Nation is being “up on current affairs.” She named the modern issues class taught by Heath Telleen and Comp 1 and Comp 2 as classes that helped prepare her for the activities there.

The veteran groups hosted the Boy Scouts for supper to thank them for their volunteer service. According to VFW post commander Don Ihnken, a dozen scouts helped them operate the concession stand under the grandstand during the tractor pull and rodeo at the county fair, even taking beverages into the stands.

Scouts also serve in the color guard at home football games. “They’re fantastic workers,” Ihnken said.

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