The streets of downtown Indianapolis were clogged with over 50,000 FFA members this past week, and our family was among them. It’s quite an experience to witness a sea of their trademark blue jackets everywhere you go, in the mall, in every restaurant, around every corner. And on every kid's back was the name of their state and hometown chapter proudly displayed in big gold letters. They massed at every crosswalk, then took their turn as the light changed.
The girls’ uniform consists of a black skirt with black nylons, the same blue jacket the boys wear, a white collared shirt and a feminine royal blue tie. Our Anna said she felt more respected when she was in her “official dress.” We went into Nordstroms to get an extra pair of black nylons. The sales lady had a stash behind the counter for just such emergencies. What a contrast from the droopy jeans look that most teenagers wear.
Our son ran for national office, a grueling effort with months of preparation. When his name wasn’t called, I didn’t feel as disappointed as I expected. Oh, so that’s how it turned out, was about all I felt. After the officers were announced and the convention came to a close, he said his goodbyes and came to us from across the emptying stadium, gave us another good long hug, and that was that. He says he’ll run again next year. For the past 5 years he’s given his best to the FFA and I expect he’ll give it a couple more. The organization has helped create the man he is, given him courage, opportunity, the gift of service.
The state and national officers are the stars of the FFA. I asked Seth once why that was. I was thinking that they needed to feature the common member more. What he said rang true. “You have to remember who they’re inspiring, Mom - a bunch of highschool kids who need heroes. The officers wear the same jacket they do - they see themselves up there on stage too.” And he’s right. The officers are farm kids just like Seth. They share his heart for the job. I wish them a great year ahead.