Herseth makes surprise visit to Girls State at USD

Herseth makes surprise visit to Girls State at USD U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth addresses Friday's closing ceremonies of Girls State in Slagle Auditorium on the USD campus. by David Lias To say that Stephanie Herseth was in a whirlwind last week is an understatement.

The Democrat's campaign for South Dakota's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives ended victoriously Tuesday, June 1.

The next day, she was on a plane to Washington, DC.

She was sworn into office on Thursday. And after taking care of some business in the nation's capital, she hopped on a plane and flew back to South Dakota, in part, to address Friday's closing ceremonies of Girls State on the USD campus in Vermillion.

"This is, for me, the perfect culmination of a very exciting week in my life, and I want to thank you for letting me be a part of it," Herseth told the audience of Girls State delegates who gathered in Slagle Auditorium.

"I hope that your week was as fulfilling as my week at Girls State 16 years ago as a delegate from Groton High School," she said. "Through the course of the week, getting to know one another, working with one another, you've been practicing self-government. And the importance of what you've been doing here this week can't be overstated in light of what we've been seeing in the news week after week with regards to what's going on in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Citizens in those nations, she said, are facing challenges that Americans can't begin to comprehend as they begin to establish their own democracies and forms of self government.

"It reminds us that we can't take for granted the foundations and the principles that we have here in the United States in our system of democratic government and self-rule," she said.

Herseth told the delegates that their Girls State experiences have given them the tools and the skills they need to make sure they are doing what is expected of them as a core part of American democracy.

"That is political participation, public service, working with one another, staying focused on the task at hand to insure the health of our democracy, our communities, our state and our country," she said.

Herseth told the delegates to look to South Dakota's political history as a guide to its future.

Last weekend, for example, the world recognized the sacrifices made by Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy, France 60 years ago on D-Day.

"It's up to my generation and your generation to not only pay our respects to those who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms, but to also assume the responsibility of leadership for our country," Herseth said.

As the United States faces future challenges, it is of the utmost importance that your generation has "voices at the table about the path that we take. And it's of the utmost importance that women's voices are heard at that table," she said.

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