Ross Ueckert (pronounced EH-kert) is the real deal.
I had heard about Mr. Ueckert a couple of weeks ago on the Scott Hennen show while vacationing in Detroit Lakes, and when I passed him up today on Highway 10, I just had to meet him in person.
A nicer, more courageous man you will not meet. His lips parched on a hot, sunny, August day, Mr. Ueckert had a smile as large as the Red River valley itself, and he appeared overjoyed when I pulled my Dodge Durango along side the road, and, along with my son Darrin, approached him. He immediately held out his hand in friendship as Darrin and I thanked him for what he was doing.
Mr. Ueckert went on to explain that he was walking for two reasons: one, was to raise an awareness among U.S. citizens regarding the encroachment of government upon our freedoms, and the need to take our nation back from the special interests and lobbyists, to push for term limits, and lead us back to the days of "citizen legislators."
The second reason that Mr. Ueckert is walking is for veterans. He thinks it shameful how many of them are treated by the V.A. He related a story, tearfully at times, of walking through North Dakota, when a lady stopped by the roadside to talk with him. When she asked him why he was walking, he told her, "For freedom, and for our veterans." According to Mr. Ueckert, she immediately broke down crying, and gave him a bracelet, bearing the name of a brother of hers who died in Iraq. She then asked him to wear it all the way to Washington, and to give legislators the message that we must not forget our veterans, and to honor their sacrifices.
Mr. Ueckert's sister, Myrna Miller, is an equally patriotic, Godly woman who believes in her brother's mission and is accompanying him, mile after mile. Both Ueckert and Miller derive strength from the passers by who stop to say hello, or just honk their horns in support. "It gives me a bounce to my step," he said. "It makes me wanna walk even faster!"
Mr. Ueckert made it a point to say that his beliefs and his mission were beyond political. "I'm not Republican or Democrat. I'm an independent!" he said. "What I believe in is that we are losing our freedom in this country and heading toward all-out socialism, which is the opposite of which this country was founded. Members of both parties have been responsible for this trend," he stated. He also lamented the chilling effect political correctness has had on our public discourse. "It's getting to the point where people are afraid to speak out. My mission is to let people know that it's okay to speak what you believe. Don't be afraid to say what you think! I'm not perfect; I have a past that people will try to use against me. But I don't care. My message is bigger than I am." By doing what he's doing, Ueckert's dream is to build up an overwhelming groundswell of independent conservatives whose voice cannot be ignored. "If we can get everyone together, to know that they are not alone, that will embolden people to take action, and Washington will have no choice but to listen," he said.
Ueckert also spoke of the power of GOD in giving him the strength to carry on his mission. "I have people around the country praying for me," he said. "and I can feel the presence of God on this road and in my travels!"
What was expected to be a five minute conversation turned out to be 25 minutes; but an enjoyable 25-minutes, at that. We were talking like people who have known each other for decades, not minutes. We left with hugs and handshakes, but not before a pleasant surprise. I explained to Mr. Ueckert that we were going to be having a TEA party in St. Cloud this Saturday at 10am at Lake George, and asked him if he would like to speak. Mr. Ueckert seemed genuinely excited at the opportunity. He also has a commitment to speak at a Fergus Falls Tea Party rally, but will try to do both on the same day.
As I drove the Durango with Darrin and my wife in tow, I sensed that my life was now richer; that there was indeed real hope left in this crazy world, and that hope has a name.
And that name is Ross Ueckert.