Senate Program Gives Young People View of Government
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 10, 2006 High School seniors involved in the Senate Youth Program learned about life in the Pentagon and got to ask questions of senior military leaders as part of their Washington program today.
A total of 104 students from throughout the country and DoD schools overseas got a tour of the Pentagon and a chance to ask questions of Army Lt. Gen. C.V. Christianson, Joint Staff director for logistics.
The two DoD Education Activity students are both from Japan. Anthony Soroka is a senior at Kadena High School, and Elizabeth Michael is a senior at Yokota High School. Both participated in the DoDEA-wide competition for the program, which includes an all-expense-paid "Washington Week" and a $5,000 scholarship.
Soroka, who hopes to attend Princeton University in the fall, said the week gave him an excellent overview of the federal government. "We visited the museums, of course, and then spoke to people at the State Department, the Supreme Court, here and other agencies," he said. He said he was especially excited to meet Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Jehangir Karamat.
Michael said she appreciated the opportunity to meet students from all over the United States. "It's been a great experience," she said. "I'm glad I did it and would recommend it to everyone."
The U.S. Senate and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation sponsor the program. It began in 1962 to expose student delegates to the highest-ranking members of government.
Accompanying the delegates are military officers who also go through a selection process. This year, Navy Lt. Janelle, a lawyer at Little Creek, Va., was one of those selected. She is no stranger to the program, having been a delegate herself from Hawaii in 1997.
"It was an amazing experience for me then," Kuroda said. "It was one of the most significant weeks of my life in helping me choose what I wanted to do.
"Coming from Hawaii, I didn't know how well I would deal with people from all over the country," she said. "After meeting the delegates, I found that anything is possible, if you apply yourself."
The lieutenant volunteered to be an escort officer as her way of "paying back" to the program. "I hope I can make it as great for these students as the escort officers made it for me," she said.
Christianson spoke about the role of the military in the United States, saying that the most important aspect of the U.S. military is that it is under civilian control. "The only body that is authorized to raise an army in this country is the Congress of the United States," he said.
Civilian control of the military is important to the country, and that's why the students see military officers and civilian officials from the Defense Department on Capitol Hill. "There are not many countries in the world who have that kind of concept embedded in their constitution," Christianson said.
Checks and balances in the federal system prevent any one portion of the government from growing too powerful, he said. "Day to day the military works for the Department of Defense," Christianson said. "But we answer to Congress and ultimately work for the people of the United States."