Growing up, I always loved going to Forest Lake’s 4th of July Parade. Each year, I’d wake up early, go find a spot alongside the curb on Broadway Avenue with my friends and wait (im)patiently for the free tootsie rolls, pencils, and of course, all the free politician stickers because we thought they made us look official, even as 7-year-olds! Parades were a great time for fun, friendship and free food – three of my favorite things! But most importantly, the 4th of July Parade gives the honor and recognition our nation’s history and servicemen and servicewomen deserve. This is exactly why the 4th of July will always be one of my favorite holidays – it allowed me to celebrate our country and have a great time with my friends and family.
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in one of the coolest parades ever alongside 65,000 FFA members wearing the blue jacket – a parade of flags. I had the chance to carry the Minnesota State Flag down FFA Way during the Grand March and in one of the sessions at National FFA Convention. Carrying the flag and representing our state was a very powerful and uplifting experience for me. Through it, I gained insight on the unity of the FFA through having the chance to connect with members across the nation. I amplified my excitement for our state’s own members and took pride in our state’s accomplishments, just like my friends and I took pride in our nation and its rich history on the 4th of July each year. Taking pride in “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” and carrying our flag made me excited to be both an FFA member and a Minnesotan – taking pride in FFA members and the U.S. through this experience is something I will never forget.
Being proud and celebrating all of the amazing things we have been doing as FFA members is so important. Last week, our state officer team was so proud of all of the amazing things our members accomplished. I had the chance to talk with several members who gave it their all throughout the week in their interviews, the talent show, Career Development Events, band, chorus and through participating in activities all week. I want to highlight a few of these amazing people. To begin with, on Friday afternoon, I had the chance to catch up with Abby Stumpner, Izzy Forliti, Daniel Williamson and Darrin Williamson. These four fantastic FFA members from the AFSA and ACGC FFA Chapters gave it their all in their AgriScience Fair Competition. They had so much joy and pride in their projects; it was easy to tell through their genuine smiles and enthusiasm. In fact, when I talked with Izzy about her AgriScience Fair Project, which focused around plant science, she mentioned it was her own project that inspired her to become a plant geneticist someday. How cool is that?! Then, on Saturday, I had the pleasure of catching up with the Dassel-Cokato Chapter’s Milk Quality and Products team (see below)! Their hours of hard work and preparation led them to earn a silver rating at National Convention! The amount of knowledge they gained through this CDE and the bond they made as an FFA family are both irreplaceable. And of course, on Saturday, our very own Valerie Earley was elected to serve as the National FFA Central Region Vice President, and as a state, we got to celebrate her great accomplishment! This year, she is going to have an adventure of a lifetime and transform the lives of thousands of FFA members from sea to shining sea and we could not be any more excited and proud of her! It is so important that as FFA members, we celebrate US.
Sometimes, our world can seem like a scary place. On social media, we see a lot of distress and concern about the future. But how are we going to manage that and still take pride in our country? With Veterans’ Day coming up around the corner, I challenge you to think about something. Reflect on the rights and privileges you have as a citizen of the United States of America. For me, the right to vote, the right to place my faith in God and His Son, the right to an education and the privilege of going to bed each night knowing my friends and family are safe because of the selfless men and women serving our country is more than enough for me. Once you have thought of these, find a way to say thank you. Thank these brave men and women for all they do for you and for me. Send a care package or write cards to troops serving overseas. Or, when you see a veteran in public, say thank you, hold the door for them or write them a card. The options are limitless, but we should all find a way to show support for our nation’s brave servicemen and women and take pride in our nation. Celebrate the U.S.
We need to take time to celebrate our own accomplishments as well as celebrate the accomplishments and sacrifices of our great nation; celebrating US and celebrating the U.S., just like we do on the 4th of July. At FFA Convention, we were able to celebrate US through recognizing all of the hard work our members are doing day in and day out while still celebrating the U.S. through flag ceremonies, the Pledge of Allegiance and singing along to the talented national chorus’ Star Spangled Banner before all general sessions. The pride and joy we take in our nation and our organization allows us to come together with a common purpose. How will you celebrate US and celebrate U.S.?
Stationed by the Door,