Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Wake Up America Speech – August – November, 1992

wake0001On the way here today I thought about the kind of talk I could give.  I could speak about the innovative training we introduced at the July Officers Training School (JOTS) in Tulsa, Oklahoma –  Teaching Jaycees about decision making, managing change, team building, and measuring performance.  Teaching young people to be leaders, how to manage their chapters and impact their communities.  I could talk about the creating new chapters like the one ______ was working on in and how neat it is to create a new Junior Chamber chapter in a community that needs one so desperately.

We could talk about the super Jaycee who comes in and does something great at a project or function, who gets more people involved than ever before.  Or the not so active Jaycee who steps in and does something neat.  No matter what topic I thought about, I kept coming back to the challenges we face –  (Insert state),  The United States Junior Chamber…even America itself.  The Jaycees have always faced challenges – we did yesterday and we will tomorrow – and we’ve continued to stand the test of time because our young people felt strongly about what they were doing.

America faces her biggest threat.  Not from a superpower – the cold war is over.  Not from Saddam Hussein though he may continue to be an annoyance.  Our biggest threat is from ourselves.  The Los Angeles riots were not about prejudice – it was about hate.  People of the same race beating and killing each other for the sheer excitement of it.  I read how a seven year old boy shot a six year old girl in the head with a pistol, and after he was apprehended by school authorities, he asked, “Is this going to take long?”

America has a new generation of young people.  Most of us grew up as baby boomers. According to the new literature Association Management distributes, boomers are shoppers because we’ve always had choices.  Boomers exhibit certain values in the workplace and professional societies in which they belong.  They have a high social conscience and a need to develop their personal development and status.  They want to contribute to society.  The new generation after the boomers is called the baby bust.  A majority of these young people grew up in a world catering to every need and an age of exploding technology.  When members of this group were ready to attend college, schools struggling for enrollment sent them postcards telling them they had already been accepted.  Busters claim as heroes not John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, but Bart Simpson and Madonna.

Their theme song is “Don’t worry be happy.”  They grew up in an age of technological miracles.  “Don’t worry about AIDS, science will find a cure in a few years.”  Why be concerned about an oil spill on the Alaskan Coast line?  Science will create an enzyme that breaks it down. For most of us – the inconceivable, an astronaut walking on the moon, is mundane reality to this new generation.  Television has literally brought the globe to their living rooms.

Several weeks ago, I saw an episode of Arsenio Hall.  Comedian Eddie

Hawaii Jaycee Membership Night

Hawaii Jaycee Membership Night

Murphy was a guest that evening.  Arsenio asked Eddie if he was actively supporting a candidate in the upcoming election.  Eddie Murphy, a popular young entertainer and personal role model for some, replied, he wasn’t going to vote.  “It doesn’t matter, what’s going to happen is going to happen.”  His vote didn’t matter.  People are disillusioned with the election process.  Congressmen are misrepresenting their office.  The issues aren’t being elected by the majority

Well it does matter and this year the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce is going to spearhead a drive to register voters, sponsor candidate debates, and get the issues out to the people.  Jaycees are going to be the driving force against voter apathy and if the congress will not represent the will of the people we will elect leaders who do.  It’s time America felt the power of her young people.  This year our organization will launch a program to get young kids involved in our Jaycee activities – it’s called the Junior Jaycees. We need to share with them the values we cherish.  Teach them early to work together in common goals.  Teach them that service to humanity is the best work of life – because – it does matter.  It’s time to Wake Up America!

Our Jaycee chapters will introduce new training techniques to our local chapters which will build the personal and leadership skills young people need to compete in the business world.  Training which will allow our Jaycees to manage their chapters – providing direction and leadership to our communities and nation – because it does matter.  It’s time we Wake Up our Jaycee members!

We have continued to lead the fight against disease, improving the quality of life for our people – and we will continue to fight….an lead.  We will fight the spread of Aids, we will work for a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, and other afflictions until the need for St. Jude’s and MDA are no longer needed.  We will work toward that end because it does matter – and we’re going to Wake Up the next generation of young people.

Mark Twain said, “Thunder is impressive, but lightning does all the work.”  Your national and state organizations are the thunder spreading the message of the Junior Chamber  – but you are the true lightning piercing through your local communities – striving to be the best of the best.  At our 72nd annual meeting, the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan said, “We must renew our commitment city by city, person by person, day by day to make our country and this world a better place to live.”

I ask you to go out into your communities and implement the Wake Up America program  Register voters, get involved with debates, and discuss the issues with members of your community. This is our chance to Wake Up America!  Challenges have always faced America and the Junior Chamber – but we’ve managed to find the answers.  Our biggest threat remains ourselves – but the answers lie in each of us – and in the middle of our challenges lay our opportunities.

commitment0001Our opportunity to Wake Up this new generation of young people and our own Jaycee members.  And we must renew our commitment chapter by chapter, member by member, day by day to make this organization stronger and our country – a better place to live.

Jaycees – its time.  Our time.  May God bless you and God bless the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Speech given:  Kansas Board Meeting 8/8/92; Missouri Board Meeting 8/15/92; Virginia Board Meeting 8/22/92; Florida Board Meeting 8/23/92; California J-Bar (Pomona) Rally 9/7/92; Eastern Institute Meeting – New Hampshire 9/12/92; Vermont Chapters 9/13/92; Massachusetts Chapters 9/14/92; Connecticut Chapters 9/15/92; New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Chapters 9/16/92; Maryland Chapters 9/17/92; Georgia Chapters 9/27/92; Great American Institute – Colorado 10/3/92; Nevada Chapters 10/6/92; Mississippi Chapters 10/8-9/92; Dixie Institute Meeting 10/11/92; Hawaii Chapters 10/18-23; Mid America Meeting  10/24/92; Kentucky Chapters 10/25-27/92; Illinois Chapters 10/28-29/92; Indiana Chapters 10/30-31/92

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ten Outstanding Young Americans Speech 1993

United States Junior Chamber of Commerce
Ten Outstanding Young Americans Banquet
Address by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd President
January 15, 1993 – Tulsa, Oklahoma

United States Jaycees: How does it feel to grow again as an organization?  In December, I asked you to accept the challenge…to grow as an organization for the first time in two years.  We set a goal of +350 people and asked thirty five states to make their goals a reality.  You answered the challenge and exceeded it with 38 states and a net growth for the organization of +466.  Four states achieved Century Club status with a growth of 100 or more members.  For the first time in a very long time we can say that the Junior Chamber of Commerce grew as an organization.  And you made that happen.  It feels good doesn’t it?

However, our job is far from complete.  Our organization  .. this nation needs us more than ever before.  America’s young people are the bread and butter of this country.  Our TOYA honorees are a testament to that fact.  We are the people – 21 to 39 – who are making America work.  We are the car buyers, the house builders, the tax payers.  We are the leaders in training.  We are the down payment on the future of this country.  Think for a moment what this country would not have it were not for the Junior Chamber.  We would not have many of the community parks for our children to play in; we would not have many of this country’s soup kitchens.

We would not have trained leaders like Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George

Marc Buoniconti 1993 TOYA Honoree

Marc Buoniconti 1993 TOYA Honoree

 Bush, and Bill Clinton – all of which were Jaycees.  Dominos Pizza, started by former Jaycee Tom Monaghan,  might not exist today.  There would not have been a Flight of the Spirit of St. Louis, sponsored by Jaycee Charles Lindbergh and the St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce.  There would not be Junior Chamber Chapters in 109 countries and we would not be honoring this weekend some of the best and brightest young people in America.

We are an important demographic of people in this country and its time young people had a voice in their future.  The AARP lobbies for the rights of seniors.  Now it is time young people have an organization to lobby for us in terms of health care, legal reform, education, and the environment.  And that organization is the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.  We’re on a roll and we’re ready to rock.

We can do whatever we choose to do.  You have proven that during the past 73 years.  We are coming into Junior Chamber Week across America.  It is time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future.  During the summer, I like many of you watched the Summer Olympics.  I will never forget the 400 meters semi-final race of the Barcelona games.  Britain’s Derek Redmond was in the backstretch some 200 meters from the end when he collapsed on the track with a torn right ham string. 

The crowd looked on in disbelief.  Injuries are, of course, common in Olympic Games where men and women are performing at their peak.  What the crowd saw on this day was quite uncommon.  They saw Olympic valor and raw determination.  As medical attendants were approaching, Redmond fought to his feet pushing the Olympic trainers to the side.  Later he would say, “It was out of animal instinct.”  With tears of pain streaming down his face, he set out in a quest to finish the race he had started.  When he reached the stretch, a large man in a T-shirt came out of the stands, hurled aside a security guard and ran to Redmond embracing him.  This was Jim Redmond, Derek’s father.

Dereck and Jim Redmond

Dereck and Jim Redmond

“You don’t have to do this,” he told his weeping son.  “Yes I do,” replied Derek.  “Well then,” said his dad, “Well do it together.”  And so they did.  Fighting off security men, the son’s head sometimes buried in his father’s shoulder.  They stayed in Derek’s lane to the end as the crowd gasped, then rose, and then cried.  They recognized true courage and sheer determination.. .. that thing we Jaycees call “Commitment.”

Our Jaycee year is in the homestretch.  Some us feel injured.  Some of us hurt.  We feel we have given everything we could but it does not matter because we can never win the race.  But you can win the race – the race that is inside you.  You can lie on the track and wait for someone to take you away before the next race begins – the next state officer takes over.  Or you can be like the great Olympian and get up and finish the race as hard as you can.  And I’ll tell you what my Jaycee career has taught me.  When you start working to finish something…giving it all you have – People will cheer.  And more importantly, they’ll join in.

Last month we set our goal and together, working hard we achieved it.  Late one night last month I was in my office writing postcards to some of you.  Thanking you for your special effort – reaching past the limits many thought possible.  Everyone had long gone home.  Just the picture of our founder Henry Giessenbier hanging on the wall for company.

A song came on the radio –  a song that made me think of what little time we had left, but so much still left to do.  The singer say’s he’s in a hurry to get things done, he rushes around till life’s no fun.  He’s in a hurry and doesn’t know why.  He say’s all he’s really got to do, like so many people in America “is just live and die.”  But as he starts to think about it, he realizes why…you see he’s on a roll and he’s ready to rock. 

There’s so much more to life than just sitting back watching people be successful around you.  He starts to pick up the pace, because he’s in his race…there’s no room for second place.  State presidents and officers, district and regional directors…Junior Chamber leaders we all must run as fast as we can…when your people see you, they’ll want join in.

It is time for out gutsiest performance.  It’s time we realize the goals we set earlier in the year.  Each of us made a commitment to leave this organization better off than when we took over and it will take real courage to make the decisions which need to made over the next few months.  We cannot afford to look the other way in our challenges, we must meet them head on and overcome them.  For our Jaycee Chapters to make the impact we need to make in our communities, for our members to develop and mature we must put into play an aggressive public relations campaign, getting our message across into the hands of the major television and radio markets.

Our Jaycee Magazine must be expanded and given real substance, providing information  which will be beneficial to our membership. A governmental affairs area needs to be created so our voice can be heard across this country and in Washington DC.  Field reps and qualified trainers must be sent out in greater numbers to train our state and local officers.  A Foundation program needs to be put into place to give our chapters grants – opportunities to once again build the community parks, carry out the projects, and make the difference in our communities we once did.

Our generation of Jaycees must prepare for the future.  We must have the courage to make the decisions we need to and return this organization to national prominence…and I’m asking you to be a part of that change.  John F. Kennedy said, Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or present are sure to miss the future.”  Let us embrace our challenges…take advantage of our opportunities and like the great Olympian, finish the race we started.

Listening to the Alabama song, I understood the message (Begin Audio: choice00012Alabama song I’m in a Hurry faintly in the background and rising).  United States Jaycees there are only 105 days left in this Junior Chamber year.  We’re in a hurry to get things done and as the leadership of this great organization, we know why!  Together, let us gather in Greensboro, North Carolina at our Annual Meeting.  Having given everything we had.  Let us push for our members to be their absolute best and let us do it because…

We would settle for nothing less!  Good luck Jaycees.  God bless each of you and God bless the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , | Leave a comment