Leadership– Listen for leadership opportunities. Opportunities are all over the place. This week was Veterans Day. An awesome thing happened when the MN FCCLA State Officers were at Capitol Leadership in Washington DC. You see, the need for leadership, good character and dedication is evidenced in many careers and in community and family life.
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the State Officers met a woman dressed in a navy uniform. She had a lot of medals and stripes on her uniform and she told us she was retiring from the navy that week. She had sought permission from the National Park Service to do her retirement speech about Leadership on the steps where Martin Luther King had delivered his speech. But due to the government shutdown, this was not going to happen the next day. She told us that as part of her job, she had just buried 12 of the navy members who died from the shooting at the Navy shipyard. She asked: “Could I give my speech to you (the State Officers)?” They huddled around to listen to her speech. So, in the darkness of the Lincoln steps, she gave her speech and the officers listened. With tears in their eyes, they listened to her speech about leadership and character. She challenged them to have courage, to serve and to lead with passion. It struck a cord with the State Officers because it was a similar message to the state theme they had developed for their year-“Courage to Pursue- Dreams Come True!”. Everyone was very emotional at this happenstance meeting.
As we scurried back to the tour bus on the nighttime tour- we asked “Who was she?? What was her rank?” Well- She called last week- having located our State FCCLA office. She is retired from the Navy now, writing a Leadership book and was Command Master Chief for the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington DC. She is Evelyn “Vonn” Banks and her accomplishments are many and well documented in newspaper articles. She was the first female to hold a number of positions in the military. She wants to encourage the young people (State Officers) and especially the young women that she had met. The Capitol Leadership Experience was an awesome trip for the State Officers. But one favorite memory was formed that night on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Be open to the opportunities that come your way. Be ready to listen and it is amazing what can happen! Here are couple of articles about her.