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Future leader Sam Dart earns 2017 Youth Tour trip

Sam Dart comes from four generations of family members who fought in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. A junior at Grant County High School in Elgin, Sam recently reflected on his ancestors and some relics from their service that he helps preserve at home.

“I have the woolen pants from my great-great-uncle, who fought in World War I, and letters sent home by my great-uncle, who fought in Italy during World War II. A gas ration card from World War II shows the sacrifice the people as a whole had to make during World War II,” he recently wrote. “Those are the difficult sacrifices to continue a democracy.”

A young man who values the history and sacrifices associated with service to country, Sam will soon travel to where the freedoms his relatives fought for are granted. The son of Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative member Luann Dart and the late Sam Dart, Sam will travel to Washington, D.C. June 10 to 16 for the 2017 Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

Coordinated and paid for by electric cooperatives across the state and nation, the Youth Tour is an opportunity for 1,500 students to travel to our nation’s capital and watch history come alive as they explore museums, memorials and monuments. Having entered an essay-writing contest in North Dakota and earned a spot on the tour, our state’s 14 students will meet other student leaders from nearly every state. In one short week, they will make lasting friendships and be part of a group that has more than 50,000 alumni in every walk of life including U.S. senators and chief executive officers.

In the Touchstone Energy® Cooperative value of commitment to community, and with a desire to help mentor our state’s future leaders, Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative has sent one student annually on the trip for the past 13 years.

This year, Sam answered the essay-contest question: “Democracy is the foundation of our American way of life and of cooperative enterprise. The fundamentals of democracy include voter participation, political party affiliation, and public debate of issues. Describe what you think makes our current democracy strong, and provide suggestions for ways our democracy can be made stronger and more effective.”

In his essay, he noted democracy in the United States is strong, thanks to those who serve in the military and have given the ultimate sacrifice. For those who support our armed forces from home, Sam lists other ways in which people can support democracy. Those include voting, discussing bills that can become laws at the Legislature, and even protesting to express disagreement.

To keep a democracy strong, Sam noted it is up to each person to understand the issues and vote when the time is right — and, to listen and learn from one another — even when they may not agree.

“To make a democracy more effective, people should be civil and listen to each other. And the government should listen to the people. Our legislators should ask more young people about what they think,” he wrote.

If Sam meets the state’s congressional delegation while he’s in Washington, D.C., he plans to do just that. Concerned with the high cost of college, Sam says he would ask for reassurance that students will do well in life, and not be held down because of debt.

And if he happens to run into President Donald Trump in an elevator?

“I would shake his hand and thank him. It’s a tough job,” Sam says. “Having a conversation with someone that high up would be interesting, to see how his mind works, other than what we see in the news.”

Sam says he reads the news online every day, to stay in touch with the world and see that our country is moving in the right direction. While in D.C., he will likely enjoy visiting the Newseum, an interactive museum of news that allows visitors to experience stories through the eyes of the media. In a recent article published online at newseum.org in the new “Inside Today’s FBI,” a quote by former FBI Director James Comey stated, “What a democracy should do when there’s a collision of values is talk about it.”

The museums at the Smithsonian will also be of great interest to Sam.

“I like having things to look at; stuff that tells a story,” he says. Like the woolen pants and gas ration card saved by those four generations of relatives who served our country, Sam says those pieces of history tell a story.

“I understand the sacrifices made by my ancestors and I am grateful for their sacrifices, which makes me understand the importance of participating in a democracy,” he concluded in his essay.

Enjoy your trip, Sam. You earned it! This summer, we’ll visit with Sam again, and learn the highlights of his Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

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