Libertyville senior heads to D.C. as part of national program
Joe Aumiller talks about his experience in Boys State where he was elected American Legion Boys Nation. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Joe Aumuller
SCHOOL: Senior at Libertyville High School
AWARD: Vice president of Boys Nation for the American Legion for 2012
Updated: September 1, 2012 12:47PM
LIBERTYVILLE — Joe Aumuller never expected to be one of only two students to represent Illinois at the American Legion’s Boys Nation at Marymount University in Arlington, Va., near Washington, D.C.
But the 17-year-old Libertyville High School student got an even bigger thrill when he was elected July 25 as vice president of the American Legion Boys Nation for 2012.
“I didn’t really expect to be there in the first place, so to be elected as vice president, I was really honored and excited,” he said. “It was a very humbling experience.”
During his eight-day trip from July 20-28, Aumuller, who is entering his senior year at LHS, got a real-life education in government and leadership.
Each year, two students from 49 states are chosen to represent their state at Boys Nation, where young leaders learn about the structure and function of federal government.
Each Boys Nation delegate represents his home state as a senator, following similar procedures to the rules of the U.S. Senate. Students caucus at the beginning of the session, organize into committees, draft bills and conduct hearings.
Aumuller said he learned about parliamentary procedure and debate, as well as leadership and different issues.
“I’ve thought about majoring in international relations (in college) and it’s given me good insight about how things work in government,” he said.
During his trip to Washington, D.C., Aumuller and the other students from Boys Nation also got to visit Capitol Hill and tour national monuments. One of the biggest thrills of the trip was when the students visited the White House and meet with President Barack Obama.
“We were at the White House and he came up and shook all of our hands,” he said. “It was a nice brief meeting and then we got to see him fly away on Marine One.”
Although his father, David, is a retired Marine Corps colonel, Aumuller said he didn’t know a great deal about the Legion’s Boys Nation program until he was told about it by his college counselor at Libertyville High School last year. A classmate at Libertyville High School, Kevin Heller, attended Boys Nation last year and told him about the program.
Aumuller was chosen for Boys Nation from 520 students who participated the Legion’s Boys State program at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston in June. The other Illinois student selected to Boys Nation this year was Ian Fleming, who lives in Mundelein and attends Carmel High School.
Aumuller said he got to know Fleming while attending Boys State and Boys Nation and the two developed a friendship.
“We actually didn’t know each other before, but we got to be pretty good friends,” he said. “It was very cool.”
Fleming said it was neat to have another student who lives in the same area participate in the Boys Nation program.
“It’s kind of rare to have two students from Lake County represent our state,” he said. “I think it reflects well on Lake County as a whole. He (Aumuller) is definitely someone I like and we’ll continue to be friends.”
Like Aumuller, Fleming believes he gained a lot from the experience.
“The future of our nation lies in the younger generations and that’s the vocal point of Boys Nation,” he said.
Aumuller said the Libertyville American Legion Post 329 sponsored his trip to Boys State and the national Legion organization helped pay for his trip to Boys Nation. He shared his experiences with members of the Libertyville American Legion Post on Aug. 9.
“It was a experience of a lifetime that I will never get again and it was all made possible by the American Legion,” he said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for what they’ve done for me.”
For being elected vice president of the Boys Nation, Aumuller will receive a $2,000 college scholarship. He also received two $1,500 college scholarships from Boys State.