Russell’s Ramblings

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

Lessons from a lemonade stand

GardenPerhaps my favorite summer activity is gardening. I really enjoy going down to our farm in Rock Hill and working the ground that my dad, grandfather, and great-grandfathers toiled.  Perhaps the best thing about the garden is that the investment in labor always yields a bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables that keep my family and friends very happy.

A few summers ago, I drove through the back roads to the farm and passed by a little lemonade stand by the side of the road.  A little girl sat at a folding table and chair with a handwritten sign that said, “Fresh Lemonade.”  There was also what appeared to be a glass pitcher and a few Dixie cups stacked as she waited patiently for a thirsty customer who would certainly come along.

I did not have time to stop then, but made a mental note to drop by for a cool drink after working in the garden in the hot afternoon sun.  After spending a few hours tilling the soil and tying up the tomatoes, I packed up and headed home.  The little girl was still in her chair, head resting on her left hand, as she slumped down on the table.

I pulled my car over and walked over to her stand.  She jumped up and beamed a big smile as I asked her for a cup of her cold lemonade.  To be truthful, the lemonade was a little warm as the afternoon sun had taken a toll on the ice.  However, after a long day in the garden, the beverage was tasty and really hit the spot.  She charged me a whopping 25 cents.

After downing the delectable treat, I asked if I could have a refill.  She indicated that would require another quarter.  She carefully poured a second beverage, handed me my drink, and held out her hand for payment.  I pulled out a $5 bill and her eyes widened and mouth dropped in awe. The little girl timidly said, “Sir, I do not have enough change.”  I told her that was okay, she could keep the change as a tip.  As I drove away, I watched in the rear view mirror as she dashed back to her house waving the money.  Based on her excitement, I am guessing that she made more in one visit with me than she did all day.

The little girl’s location was not ideal – located on a lonely country back road where you’re more likely to see a stray dog wander by before the occasional car.  She clearly wasn’t prepared for any large transactions but I really admired the fact she stuck it out through the hot summer heat.lemonade-stand

That lemonade stand was similar to many businesses that are located in low traffic areas or operate without a solid business or marketing plan. The Lake Norman Chamber helps in those situations. We provide businesses with numerous opportunities to build new relationships through our many networking opportunities. Our chamber also gives business owners and managers’ new tools and knowledge needed for success, including presentations in financial planning, sales training, marketing, risk management, HR issues and other personal and business topics.

Unlike a lemonade stand, our lake businesses cannot afford to make critical errors in planning, financing, and marketing their business.  Our businesses are like a garden which requires constant attention. You do not just plant a seed – you have to constantly provide care.  Tilling, hoeing out the rows, fertilizing the ground, and supplying it with plenty of water.  However, if you put in the effort and investment in the business, the time spent building new relationships and cultivating existing ones, will yield a bountiful harvest and a successful business.

I’m not sure how much lemonade that little girl sold that afternoon but just thinking about her brings a big smile to my face. I hope she’s back there again this summer. A fresh pitcher of cool lemonade and perhaps this time a cookie or two.

Bill Russell

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May 29, 2018 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Personal, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parading Around

One of the Many Parades

One of the Many Parades

One of the professions before I decided to pursue a career in association management was that of a property manager for a Charlotte-based real estate firm.  The company managed several properties in Columbia, S.C.  Among them was the Bank of America Tower downtown.  While I enjoyed the relationships I established with our tenants, my real passion was my extra-curricular activities after hours with the Jaycees.  During the years I worked as a property manager, I was as a state officer of the South Carolina Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).  During those years I served in a volunteer capacity as a state vice president, state president, and later as a National Vice President with the United States Junior Chamber.

In 1990, while president of the South Carolina Jaycees, I was asked to participate in the Marion (SC) Christmas Parade.  Melissa and I were asked to take part in a number of parades that year and we often joked about getting the wave “down”.  The slight half cocked wave to the left and then to the right to everyone who’s lining the street.  Now, we knew the reason most local folks attended parades was to see their son or daughter in the band or for a glimpse of the last float which was typically carrying the crowd favorite – Santa Clause.  But that didn’t stop the elected officials and dignitaries from eating up their moment in the sun.

After this particular parade, we were invited by the parade organizing committee to attend a special luncheon for the parade grand marshal, elected officials, and special guests at one of the local churches in town.  Typically the town and city parades are filled with your federal and state officials as well your county and local politicians.  And one thing you can count on with politicians, they never miss a parade or a chance to glad hand a few voters.  On this occasion, the Marion folks had done themselves proud and had a strong contingent of notable politicians.   There was one in particular who symbolized the essence of southern politics.  Now deceased, this individual was without question the ranking elder statesman in our state and perhaps the country.  All of the parade dignitaries were invited to a buffet lunch which again was led by the elder statesman in the group.  We filled our plates with the abundant southern delicacies of fried chicken, deviled eggs, green beans, and potato salad.  Grabbing our sweet ice tea, we all moved down the line and then dutifully followed the Senator as he travelled down the hall and right into a closet.

Parade of States - 1992

Parade of States - 1992

We were all stacking up on each other pretty good. The Senator opened the door with confidence and we all dutifully followed right behind.  It must have been quite a scene to the Church volunteers, watching all of the elected officials turning the corner and heading into a storage closet.  We all remerged with a look of embarrassment in full view of our hosts.

The thing is, when a leader demonstrates time after time their strong leadership abilities, you begin to develop a healthy trust of their instincts.  Every time that leader makes the right decision – the decision which advances the group’s common goals – he or she will become more trusted.  Confidence and trust are earned – they are not just given.   While embarrassed at the time, we later all laughed at our situation.  It has occurred to me over the years that that single error…that wrong decision – never swayed our trust in our elder statesman.  Over the next decade he continued to lead his community, his state, and his nation.  He inspired people to follow him and in the process he developed many young people to become leaders themselves.  Leaders are always moving forward – they are always going somewhere – and real leaders will develop people who follow.

A few years later I met this leader – Senator Strom Thurmond – in his office in Washington, DC.  What amazed me, he remembered me being in that parade on that particular Saturday and then he asked if I recalled our little misadventure.  I would have never brought it up.  However, the Senator laughed at his mistake.    Senator Thurmond left a huge impression on me that afternoon.  He never lost sight of his humility and he had the courage to laugh at his mistakes.  His final act was to walk me to his office door.  Just as he had personally greeted me on my arrival, instead of having one of his many aids usher me into his spacious office.  He patted me on the back and told me how proud he was of all the young men and women who were working so hard to make our communities and nation the best it could be.

Sen. Thurmond in his office - 1993

Sen. Thurmond in his office - 1993

Before I left, he asked if he could have a staff member take a photo of us together.  Weeks later when I arrived back in my office at the U.S. Junior Chamber in Tulsa, Oklahoma, there was a package from the capital.  The package contained a small gift, the picture of the two of us, and a note stating how proud he was a South Carolina boy was serving as National President of the Jaycees.

Over the years, I ran into quite a few South Carolinians who had similar stories of Senator Thurmond.  He was a leader who knew where he was going and his people followed.  More importantly, over his many decades of service, he taught generations of young people, the essence of leadership.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Leadership Lessons | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Raving Fans

Raving Fans1Remember the good old days when you could pull your car into a service station and an attendant would not only fill up your car, but check your oil, tires, brake fluid and even clean your windshield?  Not long ago, I pulled into a service station that said “Self-serve” on the sign.  Just out of curiosity, I asked the manager inside if there was a choice.  It took a while for him to look up from his clip board, but when he did he looked at me like I was from Mars.  Several years ago, I read a book that I recently read again entitled Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.  In the book, Blanchard tells the story of a sales manager who is counseled on the three most important tips in creating raving fans.  In a nutshell, to create raving fans of your business you must first identify what you want to achieve.  You must determine what the customer desires and then deliver more than they expected.  Sounds like common sense but too often businesses fail in that task.

I was raised in Rock Hill, S.C. and a fixture in that city for many years was a

A Texaco Full Service Station Circa 1955

A Texaco Full Service Station Circa 1955

Texaco station located on Main Street.  David Wylie operated the station with his wife Mable.  My father was an insurance agent for First Insurance Agency and wrote Mr. Wylie’s policy when a direct writer would not insure the station.  I can recall once having a problem with my car, and at the suggestion of dad, took the automobile to David’s station for repair.  David’s repairman had it running in no time and little by little I continued to patronize Wylie’s Texaco for gas and service.

Wylie Texaco Station Today

Wylie Texaco Station Today

David Wylie had several attendants who would hurry out to your car, put in the amount of gas you needed, check under the hood for all the fluids, and clean your windows.  They also engaged you in conversation and truly seemed interested in how your day was going.  On the occasion his attendants were busy with other cars or a new driver would pull up, Mr. Wylie, pipe clenched tightly between his teeth, would stride out to the island and began attending to their needs.  He never failed to ask about the family or how the day was going.  I always felt Mr. Wylie cared about his customers.  His station was older than most and his pumps worked a great deal slower.  But David never lost a customer because he and his staff always went that extra mile and gave just a little more than was expected.

Mr. Wylie retired from the service station scene years ago.  Today, the station still sits there.  The gas pumps have been removed but a garage still operates in the old building.  Occasionally I will drive by the old place on my way into Downtown Rock Hill.  Driving past, I imagine I see Mr. Wylie peering through the plate glass windows of the station, drawing on the pipe, overseeing his employees, going the extra mile to take care of his … raving fans.

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Leadership Lessons | , , , , , | Leave a comment

73rd Annual Meeting Presidential Address

73rd Annual Meeting Presidential Address
Presented by W.E. “Bill” Russell, 73rd President
June 17, 2003  Greensboro, NC

gboro0001Junior Chamber International President Robby Dawkins, Junior Chamber International Vice President Mejia, President elect and First Lady Shapiro, Fellow members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, Past National Presidents, Ambassadors, Senators, Fellow Junior Chamber members, and guests:

I could spend my final moments as national president reflecting on the past year: my travels to your states, the training we introduced, the impact we made with the Wake Up America program and our governmental affairs efforts.  However, rather than reflect on the past, I would rather us prepare for the future.

When I was a local officer in the Rock Hill, South Carolina Jaycees in the mid-1980’s, I was an inexperienced Jaycee.  I made the occasional mistakes…but I learned and benefited from it all.  But what I learned early on and what has lasted for me all these years – is the Jaycee Creed.  As simple as those 65 words are, they are the framework that helped me deal with many challenges, especially change.  During this past year as I traveled into 47 states and three different countries, I saw and read some very unsettling things.  Things that the Junior Chamber could change – if we wanted to.

In December, in the Town of Vienna, Va., the newspapers ran a photo of a

National Advisor Madsen, USJCC President Russell, JCI President Dawkins, JCI Advisor Pridgen

National Advisor Madsen, USJCC President Russell, JCI President Dawkins, JCI Advisor Pridgen

group of people held at bay by armed guards.  That may not sound unusual, but these were not rioters or protesters.  They were Christmas Carolers.  You see, the Town of Vienna had outlawed the singing of religious songs on public property.  So the men, women, and children had to sing “Silent Night” behind barricades.  It sounds much like Eastern Europe under communist rule…instead it was America 1991.  There is a cultural war going on in America and the young people are fighting for the conscience of America.  Remember that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life.

The collapse of the Soviet Union has triggered widespread thinking that the cold war is over – there is no need to do anything else – we’re safe now.  Consider for a moment the past six years, when the Junior Chamber moved behind the iron curtain and began chipping away at the walls of communism through the spread of Jaycees, and paving the way for democracy. I remember the pride I felt when I saw JCI World President Dawkins on the cover of Jaycees Magazine with the Kremlin hauntingly in the background.  Starting new Junior Chamber chapters in Russia, Estonia, and now Vietnam – new pockets of democracy.  We actively pursued friendships and cultivated relationships.  The brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations.

We hear so much that’s negative in America today.  We hear things like our economy is weak, our standard of living is low, America’s people don’t want to work.  There are indeed examples of that in every town and city of America.  But we are short sighted if we let the nay-sayers convince us that America is worse off than it’s ever been.  While there is no question there are pressing national challenges that need to be solved – we shouldn’t be sidetracked by issues that certainly do not do anything to help this nation.  Our future as a country requires us to choose issues that surpass symbolism and move toward the heart of addressing today’s foreign and domestic challenges with speed and accuracy.

I encourage you to go home this week and look closely at the real numbers behind the economy.  I think you will see that critics are off base about America’s premier status in the world. We are a nation who even at our lowest end of the economic scale – work harder and are better off than any other industrialized nation in the world.  Period.  That’s not just my opinion – it’s a fact!  You know it as economic justice – which we believe can best be won by free men through free enterprise.

world-congressAn area of the Junior Chamber whose potential largely remains untapped is our international affairs.  Not one major city in America is without an international company operating and employing the people of that community.  The barriers of the world are opening and today’s world is becoming a global village.  The world’s challenges are very simply – our challenges.  Our Jaycee chapters need to become involved in international affairs, creating bonds with chapters from throughout the world – sharing cultural and business knowledge.  The future of this organization lies in its ability to offer young people the opportunities of the world.

United States Jaycees, the challenges which face us are not unsolvable.  But unless we have the courage to meet them head on, our hesitation could seal our fate.  Traveling around the country this year, some people asked, “What’s wrong with the Junior Chamber?  Why are we losing members every year?”  There are no simple answers and some of you may not agree with some of the things I’m about to say, but I feel compelled to say them.  First off – there is nothing wrong with the Jaycees.  The fault is not in the product – the faults are in the delivery of the product.

Each year, we send young people out to serve in leadership capacities: state presents and vice presidents, regional and district directors, local chapter officers who are unprepared for the role they play.  They have the commitment, courage and desire – but they lack the knowledge and experience.  I believe we should require our officers to meet certain criteria for office.  I believe we should require state presidents to have been vice presidents.  State vice presidents should have been regional or district directors and they in turn should have been local presidents.  Some of our states might find it difficult to fill leadership roles for a while, but I believe it is a disservice to both the chapters and the officer to send them out there unprepared.  Pinning a name badge on a shirt just for the sake of filling the position does more harm than good.

Each year we start new Junior Chamber chapters in communities with the only criteria being twenty filled out applications and money to cover the dues for the twenty people.  The chapter does not have to run projects.  It doesn’t have to teach personal and leadership skills.  It doesn’t even have to conduct regular meetings.  I believe this is wrong.  I think we should bring back the affiliation process which would require chapters to meet certain criteria before a charter is granted.  The chapter should create a chapter plan, run community projects, conduct orientations, and initiate quality programming which are going to make young people the business and community leaders of tomorrow.  These activities could be monitored by the state organization.

One of the weaknesses we incur is we recruit people every day, telling them that the organization is inexpensive – only $45 a year, you don’t have to attend the meetings, you don’t have to participate in the projects and programming, as a matter of fact you don’t have to do anything – and then the member lives up to those expectations.  They become the member we asked them to be.  I believe you should collect their membership application and check but before they become a member, they must attend an orientation, a meeting, and a project.  If they are unable because of evening classes or work commitments, exceptions can be made.  This type of membership activity would ensure that people who never intended to be active, who never knew they joined in the first place, or paper members signed for personal gains never appear on our rolls to begin with.

Membership recruitment is vital to our organization.  We must recruit more young people and create new Junior Chamber chapters more zealously than ever before. But we cannot damage our chapters and our credibility by recklessly creating chapters which don’t meet that standard.  As a national organization, we must examine the measurement system by which we judge our state organizations – the Parade of States.

It is a system which recognizes one winner and forty-nine losers.  It is a system which rewards short term performance.  It is a system which condones a live for today attitude, no matter of tomorrow’s consequences.  Just a quick look at our top five parade players of the past five years will indicate states which are paying for their moment in the sun.  One state – Vermont – was a top five state just a few years ago, today – we have no state organization in Vermont.  We simply cannot continue to recognize short term success.  President elect Shapiro if you truly want to impact the United States Junior Chamber – dismantle the Parade of States.  Initiate a program which recognizes states which excel in the only awards program which encompasses all areas of Jaycees on a long term basis – our Blue Chip Program.

States which have 20-30% of chapters at Blue Chip can be Blue Chip States;

Outstanding State Presidents

Outstanding State Presidents

States with 30-40% can be Gold; and  States with 40% or higher can be Diamond States.  It’s time we reexamined our measurement systems.  It’s time we stopped condoning reckless and irresponsible membership activity.  Understand clearly Jaycees – membership is people.  And we’re in the people business.  We have a responsibility to give other people an opportunity to be in the Junior Chamber. This organization has been around for 73 years because people have felt strongly enough about it to share it with others.  We must recruit more young people, get more people involved than we did this past year – and we must do it because it’s the right thing to do.  Not because of what we gain by it, but by what we give by doing it!

Henry Kissinger, the former United States Secretary of State, said, “The task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”  In the governmental affairs area – it’s time for the Junior Chamber to have a lobbyist in Washington DC to ensure we’re not overlooked on issues of importance to us.  Let’s go somewhere we have not been.

In the environmental area, let’s show America we’re dedicated to preserving natural resources – but at the same time – communicate clearly that environmental awareness is not more important than human life.  Let’s go somewhere we have not been.

Let’s inject ourselves into the political debate of this country – wholeheartedly and enthusiastically – to represent what young people today think and need. Let’s go somewhere we have not been.

It’s time we rejected the old measurement systems and turned our backs on the status quo and mediocrity.  It’s time to embrace our opportunities.  It’s time to go somewhere we have not been.

Rock Hill Jaycees - The Traveling Animals

Rock Hill Jaycees - The Traveling Animals

United States Jaycees, we’re stronger now than we’ve ever been.  We’ve made it through the hardest part.  We had to break it all down to build it back up.  We leaned on each other when times got tough and we’ve survived so much.

We shared it all this year, you and I.  Thank you for giving Melissa and I this wonderful opportunity.  To the Jaycee Traveling Animals of Rock Hill, we’re coming home.  And to the South Carolina Jaycees – Let’s put the green back on stage.

Good luck Jaycees and may God Bless the United States Junior Chamber.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jaycee Speech – “Dirt Roads” Circa 1994-1999

junior-chamber-logo0001Years ago, when I was just a teenager I remember taking a walk with my Granddaddy Russell through some of the back roads near his house.  He raised a few head of cattle and every once in a while they would venture to another pasture to graze on the tall grass.  I remember he made a comment to me, something I didn’t understand at the time.  “You know what’s wrong with the world”, he said, “there’s not enough dirt roads.” Being a city boy I replied, “Why would you want to live on a dirt road?” Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be 21, 1 was astonished at how’ much he had learned in 7 years.” I think I understand now what my grandfather meant…  the world continues to change… progress, evolution. Society, its values and customs also evolve.   Here in South Carolina, our communities continue to grow, prosper, and change.

Today we are faced with challenges that come with these changes … crime, drugs, school overcrowding,  family deterioration, traffic congestion, and yes even gang related incidents.  Challenges which could be solved with just a few dirt roads. You see, dirt roads build character.  People who live at the end of dirt roads learn early that life is a bumpy road… it can jar you right down to your bones-but its worth it if waiting at the end is your home with a loving spouse, happy kids, and a frisky puppy dog. We wouldn’t have near the problem with juvenile issues today if our kids got exercise walking a dirt road with other kids with whom they learn to get along.

There was less crime in our streets before they were paved.  Criminals did not walk two dusty miles to rob you when they knew they would be welcomed by five barking dogs and a loaded shotgun. Our values were better when our roads were worse.  People didn’t worship their cars and houses more than their kids.  Dirt roads were a sign of simpler times. But we out grew them.  America grew up.  The world grew up. Who would have believed 30 years ago when my Grandfather was still a young man – that in Russia –  the statues of Lenin would be replaced by the Golden Arches of McDonald’s. That Coke would replace Vodka as the beverage of choice. That the Berlin wall would crumble into souvenirs.

Here in America, young people continue to turn to drugs for an answer. Men and women line the city streets looking for shelter.  Health care costs are moving out of reach.    People are losing faith in their Government leaders, and volunteerism is on the decline. Where are we headed?  Never in the history of this country has volunteers been needed more than today. We stand at the precipice of tomorrow and America is calling out to its volunteers.  Men and women of vision and action.   President Bill Clinton took a step in the right direction in 1992 when he recognized the need for national citizen service.  We must understand that government can’t solve the problems of people.  Only people can solve the problems of people.

We must take responsibility for the future of our communities assisting bobby1those who cannot help themselves.  We should instill positive values in our young people by our actions rather than by our words.  We should make our communities the best possible place to work and to live.  And we should do it not because of what we gain, but what we become by doing it.  A revolution faces both this country and our government………. not a revolution of armed men and women, but a revolution of change.
Thirty years ago, Robert F. Kennedy had a vision of America, he said,  “A revolution is coming- a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough- but a revolution is coming whether we will it or not … we can affect its character, we cannot alter its inevitability.” It’s time to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and volunteerism in this country.  We must use our talents to create a better place to live.  It is our responsibility passed down by the generations which came before us and the legacy we leave for the next generation.
Even the most active of us sometimes wonders whether our vote…our actions…the time we may volunteer really make a difference.  The world is so complex can we really change the face of our communities? I want to be honest with you.  I can’t motivate you to do anything.  I can’t get you to do anything you really don’t want to do.  But I can tell you…yes, we can make a difference. Do you realize that somewhere within ten miles of where you’re sitting… a child will go to bed hungry tonight?  That somewhere within 20 miles of where you’re sitting.. a teenager will try his or her first marijuana cigarette?

Somewhere today at one of our area hospitals…a crack baby will be born already addicted to drugs. Sometime tonight a teenager, perhaps neglected or abused by their parents, pushed by his or her peers, will commit their first crime. Can we prevent all this from happening?  Probably not.  But if we can feed one child, educate one mother on the effects of drugs and alcohol, on her baby….if we can steer one child away from drugs or crime by spending a little time with them.  Showing them that we care.  Shouldn’t we try?   Aren’t they worth it?

The cost for each of you may be a little extra time from your job…or perhaps an evening watching a rerun of Sienfeld.  It may mean missing that golf game this weekend or the trip to the lake.  But the cost to any one of those less fortunate… the one’s who need our compassion and understand.   The cost to them could mean their life. The question for you is are they worth it?  I think they are.  I think you  do to or you wouldn’t be here today.  Let’s work together to make our communities a better place to work and live.  Let’s make a difference in a few lives…today.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye to the Gipper

This article, written in 2004, appeared in the Lake Norman Chamber newsletter.

 Last month, June, marked an anniversary in my life.  It was a dozen years ago that a small town boy from Rock Hill, South Carolina was elected president of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).  Many of you are probably familiar with the Jaycees.  However, for those of you who may not be – the Junior Chamber is a civic organization for young people in more than 100 countries with 200,000 members worldwide in 6,000 communities.

 In 1992, I was elected National President in Portland, Oregon.  It was a closely contested election running against a Jaycee from Arkansas and another from North Carolina.  While the election was a moment to remember, perhaps my real thrill was meeting the keynote speaker of the convention that year – Ronald Wilson Reagan.  While Reagan was four years removed from office, he still carried the confidence and charisma that people remembered fondly last month.reagan00011

As the incoming national president, I had the opportunity to meet with him firsthand, sharing lunch in a very informal setting.  Reagan captivated our group with stories and anecdotes of his days in the movies and in public office.

In our encounter, he retold a story I’m sure he used on many occasions about the farmer and the attorney.  As his story went, a farmer in an old pickup truck and an attorney in his sports car collided on a back country road.  Immediately after the collision, the farmer leaped from the truck and asked how the attorney felt.  The attorney, woozy from the collision, was a bit shaken.  So the farmer reached behind the seat of his truck and pulled out a bottle of whiskey.

 “Here, take a swig of this, it’ll make you feel better,” said the farmer.  The attorney agreed he felt a bit better.  The farmer encouraged another sip, and then another, until the attorney felt pretty darn good.  The attorney, feeling pretty spry now, thanked the farmer for his kindness and inquired if he wanted the last little bit from the bottle.  The farmer, with a grin on his face, said, “Nah…I’ll wait till after the state trooper arrives.”

The ancient Greeks believed that character was formed in part by fate and in part by parental training, and that character was exemplified not only by acts of bravery in battle but in the habits of daily conduct.  In our brief meeting I was captured by Reagan’s charisma.  His optimism, drive, and spirit made a profound impact on me as I began my year as national president.  Our theme “Wake Up America!” encouraged young people to get involved in their communities – take part in the political debate regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Last month, Reagan’s death hung heavy on my heart.  I felt like I was reliving the death of my grandfather who shaped so many of my views and beliefs.  Both were men of character, simple and down to earth men, who seemed to understand themselves and focused on their objectives.  They were men of character from a time when character was held in higher esteem than it seems to be today.  A time when character was king.  There will be debate about Reagan’s legacy.  Some will praise him and others will say he fell short. 

I know how he made me feel about my community and my country.  And that’s his legacy to me.  Thank you Gipper.
Addressing the U.S. Junior Chamber 1992

Addressing the U.S. Junior Chamber 1992

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment