Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014 Grand Marshal

              Here in Ripon, California (there are three other Ripon’s around the world – England, Canada, and Wisconsin) we hold an annual Almond Blossom Festival every February, sponsored by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. A variety of activities take place leading up to the festival, not the least of which is the Almond Blossom Banquet in January which officially kicks off the activities.

The evening is filled with various presentations by folks all having to do with the festival in one manner or another. However, the primary focus is on the half-dozen or more candidates espousing to be selected as the Almond Blossom Queen. One of those candidates is Jessica Carmona who was assigned to do her speech on Mr. Manuel Luis, selected as this year’s Grand Marshal.

What follows are portions of the speech which highlight Mr. Luis’ life, and his dedication to Ripon and our community.

“Tonight it is an honor to speak of an individual who is undeniably a great role model and member of our community. Born and raised in Ripon, Mr. Manuel Luis has made notable contributions to our town. Starting in high school, Mr. Luis was involved with FFA (Future Farmers of America) and football, while taking over his family farm when he was only 14 years old. In addition to the impressive dedication to his farm, Mr. Luis has shown the same amount of effort and commitment to the Ripon Grange. With service as the County Grange President for 25 years, it is easy to say that Mr. Luis has been more than an active member. He became the Deputy State Master, serving for 35 years, where his responsibilities were to oversee all nine of the subordinate Granges in San Joaquin and Calaveras Counties.

“Additionally, Mr. Luis has been involved with all four levels of the Grange: local, county, state, and national. He takes pride in the activities affiliated with the Ripon Grange, including all of the community service organizations such as various scholarships, Ripon High’s FFA Club, 4-H, Boosters Club, and support of local athletic teams.

“He serves as the root and foundation of his family, having raised three kids who have all followed in their father’s footsteps in a spirit of giving back to the community in one way or another. Not surprisingly his family is highly involved with the agricultural and farming aspects of Ripon. Membership in the Ripon Grange in the Luis family can be traced back to Mr. Luis’ mother. Today each member of his family, including all seven of his grandchildren, is a member of the Ripon Grange.

“It is no surprise that Mr. Luis was selected to be the 2014 Grand Marshal. He is a graduate of Ripon High School - 43 years ago. This humble family man, and proud farmer, is one “Riponite” who is an excellent choice to serve as our Grand Marshal. He will be featured in this year’s 52nd Annual Almond Blossom Parade.”

As you can see, Mr. Luis is well-respected and loved in our community of Ripon.

America is made up of solid citizens like Manuel Luis who are the “salt-of-the-earth” in communities all over our nation. I know it can be disheartening to watch the news and figure our nation is imploding morally, spiritually, ethically, and in every other way imaginable. But then I hear about people of substance and character who go about living their lives, raising wholesome families, making solid contributions to their communities because they want to and they are committed to making a positive difference in the world.

I’ll be the first to point out that our nation needs to experience a revival where the hearts of the American people are changed by a move of God’s Holy Spirit across this land. But when I’m feeling most discouraged with the conditions in our world, it’s as if the Lord is showing me people who are immoveable and stalwart in living out the best in human character, and they live right down the street.

Thank you, Mr. Luis, for reminding us that ours is a great country and it’s a place to raise future generations of hard-working, god-fearing, Americans.