Gen. Joe Foss


Capt. Joe Foss was a Marine fighter pilot at the battle of Guadalcanal. He shot down 26 Japanese planes. Congress awarded him the Medal of Honor. Not a bad start, but he went on to many other accomplishments.

He was twice Governor of South Dakota.

He was the Commissioner of the American Football League.

He was President of the National Rifle Association.

He and his wife founded a non-profit organization to teach patriotism to children. That’s one is his legacy, and it is ongoing.

It’s the kind of thing that was possible for an American farm boy.

The story of Joe Foss’s life is a story of human endeavor so great and so accomplished that it defies exaggeration. His has been a life of courage, independence, honesty, determination, and patriotism.
–Senator John McCain

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Milkweed

Back in the United States of America, Boy Scouting was an honorable activity. Scouting was held up as something to be proud of. Scouts were called upon by the government at that time to do what were called “National Good Turns”.

In 1944, one of those Good Turns was to collect milkweed fluff. Before the use of synthetic materials, life preservers were filled with a material called kapok. During the war it was impossible to get kapok in sufficient quantities for the demand, and milkweed fluff had been chose as an alternative filler material for the life jackets.

The Scouts collected enough fluff to make 2 million life jackets. They were young, but their country was at war and they wanted to do their duty. They were members of the Boy Scouts of America and they had taken an Oath.

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country…

–The opening phrase of the Scout Oath

Parks & Rec Ball

Not Little League. That had tryouts and only kids who could actually play got on those teams. I didn’t even know those kids. Parks & Rec Ball. They took all comers, formed teams, had a town league. There were 4 fields scattered around town, and a roster of games through the season. Dads coached, and we all played like we cared, because we did. Even those of us who were lousy at such things as hitting and fielding cared.

The teams had uniforms, names, and sponsors. Games were in the evening, after supper a couple of times a week during the summer. I would put on my uniform, sling my glove over the handlebars, and ride out to whichever field we were scheduled to play at. The games were seven innings long. I would play the outfield not unlike the kid in the Peter, Paul, and Mary song.
It didn’t matter what position I played. I loved baseball. I can look back and remember those games, the way the grass looked as the day faded, the big clouds in the midwestern sky. The feeling of turning on a pitch and hitting it over the second baseman’s head.

When the game was over, we all rode to the Dairy Queen. The coach bought a Mr. Misty for everyone on the team if we won. If not, you were on your own. He only paid for winning, and he was happy to tell you so, if you were brave enough to ask. I’d bicycle home, usually as it was getting dark. It wasn’t unusual, we rode bikes everywhere and we played baseball. It’s what boys did in America.

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.
–Dave Barry