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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



I’ve been fortunate over the years to have made some great friends and this week I’ve been reminiscing about a few of them thanks to a few photo albums that appeared in boxes I’ve been unpacking. Between the smiling faces in those old photos and the few blogs and columns of other journalists that I have stumbled across it’s been a great trip down memory lane.

I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on the corduroy blue jacket that has become the most identifiable symbol of the youth organization known as FFA. In the upstairs hallway of the farm we moved into when I was small there was a closet that held a number of things that were odds and ends packed away out of sight out of mind. Inside that closet hanging under plastic was a faded jacket with my Dad’s name embroidered in gold.

I’ll be the first to admit that I hated wearing corduroy of any kind when I was a kid, and even today I still detest it somewhat, however I felt some strange excitement the first time I tried it on. There was even more pride after Dad’s name was taken off and my name was stitched on. Oh sure, it was a hand-me-down jacket, but I was as proud as pie!

My first real exposure to FFA was in exploratory class in Jr. High. The venerable Lyle Stewart was our instructor and I remember him as a no-nonsense kind of guy. He left before I was old enough to mark down Ag classes on my request sheet as a Freshman, and the program suffered a bit in his absence. As a Freshman there was Creed Speaking and since I was the only one to compete at contests I believe for that reason, and the help of a few older kids who saw some potential in me I won the coveted Star Greenhand Award. It was weeks after contest that the school board attempted to get rid of the Ag program at Dexfield and to be honest there were some scary days there where they almost succeeded.

At the end of the year potluck I met the person who would change my life in ways I never imagined over the next few years. She was our new Ag Advisor and soon became our mentor, our confidant, our cheerleader and our friend. I can honestly say that my entire success in FFA was only possible with her support, guidance and, from time to time, stern look. I earned my first “new” blue jacket as a District Officer and another later as a State Officer.

I spent an amazing couple of years traveling across the state, preaching about the “Blue and Gold” and the promise of Agriculture in the state of Iowa. I met great friends, Slush, Grin, Bill, Sherry, Tim, Connie, my dear friend Christi (even if she’s a Mizzou graduate) and Stephanie….so many dear friends that to this day I can say actually enriched my life. I’m am still amazed after all these years when I look back at the funny faces in those old pictures that even to this day the names come back to me so easily.

So for any of you who have ever worn the Blue and Gold, and to all those who will in the future, I salute you. May you always carry with you the spirit of those days, the vision for a brighter future and with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.

See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.