Up-And-Coming: Aidan Pierce

All 98 delegates for Boys State 2017. (Photo courtesy American Legion)

All 98 delegates for Boys’ State 2017. (Photo courtesy American Legion)

Will Sutton, Photography Editor

     ‘Up-And-Coming’ is a recurring segment in which the Harborlight interviews students who excel in extracurricular pursuits. Aidan Pierce is a senior at Hingham High. I sat down with him to discuss his interests and achievements in politics, chiefly his involvement with the American Legion’s Boys’ Nation program.


Sutton: Can you explain a little bit about what Boys’ State/Nation is and how you became involved with it?

Pierce: So to start with how I got involved with it, last year- springtime- Mr. Hoy and specifically Ms. O’Connor, they briefly talked about the program.I had already kind of an inkling of what it was, and they gave out applications. I was one of the few to fill one out. Mr. Hoy essentially made the final selection, he decided that I should go to Boys’ State.

     What Boys’ State is, in very, very simple terms, is a week-long program at Stonehill in Easton, where you learn about politics, the economy, and law… you make friends, you give speeches, you hold elections, you run a town, you balance a budget, you elect mayors, and you elect senators and governors. It was an amazing program.

     And to get to Boys’ Nation, you need to run for a particular position that’s called United States senator. So I ran for senator, and, by my estimations- there were 400 boys in the program- I think about 100 of them wanted to be senators. And they only send two. So I ran and I had to go through (counts under breathe) five rounds of elections. And how you do that is: you get up in front of your party, give a speech, and everybody else that’s running for the same position makes a speech, and the next morning, you vote. And it starts at, y’know, a hundred, and it gets whittled down to 16. And it gets whittled down to 8. And it gets whittled down to 4, then you have your final 2.

     Nation, what it is, it’s the same thing – kind of – but in my eyes it was so much more gratifying because you’re surrounded by some of the most intelligent kids in the country. Two from every state are sent, so I have friends in Louisiana and South Carolina now, because of this program. And you write legislature. You run for positions like president and vice president. It was an awesome experience. Putting it into words doesn’t do it justice, you kinda have to be there to experience it.


Sutton: What was it like to represent Massachusetts? Did you feel any pressure, responsibility…?

Pierce: Responsibility, yes; pressure, no. I knew that I was at Boys’ Nation because I was deemed by my peers to be deserving of going to Boys’ Nation. However, a responsibility to kind of uphold myself and represent my state well, absolutely. When you get to Boys’ Nation, you’re judged. You are literally ranked in terms of how well you conduct yourself. There’s a 1 to 98 (because Hawaii doesn’t have a program), and that report gets sent back to the people that run your State program. So of course, I don’t want to be in the nineties or the eighties, I was to be in the tens or the ones. So no, I absolutely knew that I had to represent my state as well as I could, but that wasn’t constraining, that didn’t feel suffocating to me. I was happy to have the opportunity, to have been given the opportunity by my peers at Boys’ State.


Sutton: If you don’t mind me asking, where did you rank at the end of the week?

Pierce: I don’t know. I saw the report at the end of the second to last day, and out of 98, I was ranked 9th-

Sutton: Dang. That’s pretty good.

Pierce: (Laughs) Yeah, I’ll- I’ll take it, um, I don’t know where I finished at last, quite frankly I had a pretty good last day so I don’t know, I might have moved up a spot or two in the rankings.


Sutton: That’s great. What was the most valuable takeaway, or lesson you learned from Boys’ State or Nation?

Pierce: Not to discredit Boys’ State, it was a great program, and any sophomore or junior reading this in the paper: apply for it when you can. But Boys’ Nation was definitely the more formative experience. So the major takeaway I got from that was: Check your ego at the door. In anything that you go into, if you assume that you’re gonna be the most intelligent, or the most constitutionally literate, or the best public speaker there, you are wrong. Because I met, in my opinion, the brightest men in the country that’re my age. Y’know I could talk to people about policy ideas and they were able to challenge me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. I can’t be challenged as much here as I can be with such talented youth. So the greatest takeaway I can get is: any situation you find yourself in, check your ego at the door and get ready to learn from people who know more than you.


Sutton: Do you hope to pursue a career in politics?

Pierce: Yes I do.

Sutton: What inspired your political aspirations?

Pierce: That’s funny, that’s actually what I based my speeches off of at Boys’ State to get to Boys’ Nation. It’s a very simple desire to better society. A lot of people, including myself have had… non-auspicious upbringings, and a large part of that is a result of unfair legislature and unfair policy that has been inflicted upon us by the state or by the national government- things along the lines of complicated tax codes, sexist judicial system. Things I have personally experienced, and I know others have experienced. So my desire as- I don’t like the word politician, as a statesmen, if you really want to romanticize it- is to simply ameliorate the situations of those that can’t speak for themselves.


Sutton: How do you feel about the current political climate?

Pierce: I think- I think it gets a bad rap. However, that’s not to say that it’s good; it’s that it’s better than people think it is. Discourse is taking place; however, we only like to talk about the negative, because it’s easier to talk about. I have a lot of hope for the future. As I said, I met the most politically minded young men in the country. There’s a lot of bright minds, and there’s a lot of people that are ready to compromise to improve our nation. I think we’re transitioning away from politicians and I think we’re gonna see some real statesmen pop up in the next ten to twenty years. We have people that genuinely love our nation and are just looking for a power grab.


Sutton: Congress right now is a little less than 20% female. Do you think that the exclusively male Boys’ Nation is negatively affecting [the situation] or do you think it should be considered separately?

Pierce: It’s not as publicized as it should be, however there is a Girls’ State and a Girls’ Nation. As opposed to being run by the American Legion (the largest veterans organization in America), Girls’ State and Girls’ Nation is run by the American Legion Auxiliary, which is essentially their female offshoot. Boys State programs have about 25,000 participants; from what I read, Girls’ State programs have about 17,000. Which is good. It’s not good enough. You should see those numbers close to equal. However, I did have the opportunity to meet with some of the girls at Girls’ Nation, and you will see, within the next 10, 20, 30 years, a much more even distribution, quite simply because we are giving girls the opportunity to succeed in these kinds of fields. In the past, it was inequality of opportunity, however, now we see more equality of opportunity, and that will result, I hope, I believe, in equality.


Aidan Pierce’s latest endeavor, his Eagle Scout Project, is located at both Hingham Middle School and Hingham High School: collection boxes to make the proper disposing of American flags easier. He hopes the project will inspire respect for the American flag and dissuade teachers from using their flags until they are tattered and overused.