Sarah Locke represented Shelby Electric Cooperative on the 2013 Youth to Washington trip, sponsored by the Illinois electric and telephone cooperatives. She was also elected by her peers to represent Illinois on the NRECA Youth Leadership Council. At the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives annual meeting in August, Locke told the co-op leaders what the trip meant to her.
“I’m French, and that day we all felt like American citizens.” As I read this anonymous quote, goose bumps crept over my skin. The longer I stared at the words, the more they sank in. I fumbled for my camera before the words faded off the wall and the slideshow transitioned to another quote. Little did I know, I didn’t need a picture, a month later the words still have not faded out of my memory. This took place when I was standing in the 9/11 portion of the Newseum. I realized that other countries really do care about us. It gave me a sense of patriotism for being an American. And what better place to feel patriotism than in our nation’s capital of Washington D.C!
The 2013 Youth Tour gave me a better understanding of my country. I now have a better understanding for the way the government works today and the way that the United States was built — and that was on pride and patriotism for our country. Standing in Washington D.C. for the first time was a patriotic feeling and made me understand how people can fight for our country and devote their lives to the United States. So if you ask me what better understanding for our country that the Youth to Washington trip gave me, it is that for once in my life I felt like a true American citizen and it is a good feeling.