Friday, November 7, 2014

30 Days: Thoughts of a Future Farmer Day 7

Colonel Charlie Plumb - P.O.W.

Today is a little different.  Last night we had a speaker at AFA whose name is Colonel Charlie Plumb.  He is a retired US Navy fighter pilot, and spent six years as a Prisoner of War in Northern Vietnam after his jet was shot down.

During his talk, he connected how his experiences for 6 years in a POW camp, and other times where we 'dodge bullets,' to what a bunch of young agriculturalists are doing developing as leaders.

There were two great takeaways from his talk.  I'm writing slightly verbatim, and somewhat paraphrased (what I can't remember verbatim), but you will get the gist.

1.   "Take the word 'deserve' and erase it from your memory, word processor, the dictionary - remove the word 'deserve.'  You don't deserve anything.  Nobody deserves anything.  Life is a choice we make every day when we get up.  I could have gone crazy in that POW camp.  The government told our families that we were probably going to need admitted to an institution for what we went through.  Of the Vietnam POWs, (if I recall his number) only 4% suffer PTSD.  Because we learned that in their 8'x8' cell, we could communicate, knowing another human is there makes a difference.  It makes even more of a difference when you know that they care.  I was just a kid from Kansas, I didn't deserve six years of torture in a prison camp - I got it anyway.  We get what we earn from the choices we make.  In the end, it turned out well for me, but the choice to move toward survival and our motto of, "Return. With. Dignity.," kept us going."

2.   "In life there are people who are parachute packers.  That's a figurative definition.  These are the people who give immensely of themselves and never once expect anything in return.  What's important is that these people give you the opportunity to succeed.  Far more important, they give you the option to fail.  When we live our lives, we are given every single day and we have two options on how to go about that day.  We can either make it a good day, or make it a bad day - but the choice to succeed or fail is in your hands."

I thoroughly enjoyed our opening speakers last night here at AFA.  I'm looking forward to another couple of great days ahead!

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