Wagan from Texas is youngest, Arkansas' Burd repeats as oldest champ
Houston, Texas - "This morning, we will continue the long standing tradition of recognizing the youngest and the oldest life members in attendance at the NRA Annual Meeting of Members."
Those were the words of NRA President David Keene. In the opening minutes of Saturday's Annual Meeting of Members, the search for the cornerstones of NRA's Life Membership began. Wrangled by Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's littlest members were asked to stand with their parents as LaPierre counted down the years. If we call out the year you were born, please sit down. One by one the numbers dwindled. When he reached 2009, only one pair was still standing.
"Well come on down."
Lights circled about the audience until finally reaching a father and daughter from Austin, Texas. Making their way for the stage, her on his hip and him with a smile, the two were doused with applause of appreciation. Three year old Eliah Wagan was officially the youngest Life Member at the 2013 Annual Meeting of Members.
"Eliah, we are proud to have you as a life member of the National Rifle Association," said LaPierre.
Settled off to the side, Eliah and dad patiently waited for stage two to commence. Lights came back around as officials began their pursuit of phase two; finding the oldest Life Member in Houston.
Starting with those born in the 40s, LaPierre made his way down the list. 1935, 1930, 1925, 1920. The final year called was 1917.
Dressed in jacket and an American flag tie, Mr. Wayne Burd of Lavaca, Arkansas waved out to the crowd while spritely ambling up to the front.
"He's been a member since 1938."
Filled with pep and pride, Burd was smiling like a cat that ate the canary. Upon reaching the stage, he shook LaPierre's hand, accepted the plaque, and stepped to the microphone. Who was going to say no.
"I never dreamed in 1938, that 74 years later that I'd be up here getting this."
Gathering in a nearby alcove, photographers (including yours truly) scampered to snap a picture of Wagan and Burd. Smiling, waving, and speaking with LaPierre, the group soon disappeared behind the curtains. Their place in NRA history secure.
Recognition of the oldest and youngest Life Member highlights the reach of the NRA. How the Second Amendment is not an issue restricted to the young or old, but rather a cause that bridges the generations. A long time tradition at the Meeting of members, the ceremony is the perfect opportunity to highlight the contribution of NRA Members everywhere, even when their support is just being there.
* Eliah Wagan is the granddaughter of NRA Board Member Dr. David Bennett (2nd on the left).
** Mr. Burd also won the Oldest Life Member Award last year in St. Louis.