Russell’s Ramblings

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

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.

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

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