As I look out my office window here in Hillsborough, North Carolina I see a Winter Weather Land. It is beautiful. The news reports say that snow has invaded the south and more is on the way. I received a couple of e-mails cancelling meetings. It reminded me of one cold winter night in Michigan many years ago. This was long before computers and cell phones invaded our lives. I was booked for a speech in Marshall, Michigan for the Future Farmers of America. It was an Awards Banquet and we had a bad ice storm in progress. I got my Ford V out of the driveway OK and headed on through the deserted streets of the City of Battle Creek. I did not see a store open. The whole downtown was dark. I got onto I-94 OK and drove slowly. The expressway was covered with ice and on the ten mile journey I never saw another car. I drove through downtown Marshall over to the hall where the meeting was scheduled and I didn’t see another vehicle. As I drove up to the hall there were pickup trucks parked everywhere and when I walked into the big hall it was packed with proud kids and their parents.
It was a joyous event. The food was fantastic and watching those young men and women accepting their rewards, so proud and humble about achieving their often difficult goals, made me forget about those icy roads and that bitter cold outside and I just felt good all over, about the youth of America. I felt so proud to be an American living in this land of the free. As I carefully made my journey home their applause for my speech still rang in my ears, but I had waved it down and redirected that applause back to themselves for it was , hopefully, a night they would all remember long after the ice had melted away. That was over forty years ago and I still remember it well.