Archived Story

Standing for 105 hours made a difference

Published 6:00am Sunday, January 5, 2014

Guest Column: By Jim Brickson

And so I stood there …

It seems a little crazy if you really think about it — ringing a bell for eight hours, much less the world record set at 80 hours, or reach 105 hours. In fact, the event at one time was dubbed the “Crazy 80,” so go figure.

“Why?” many have asked as they stopped and chatted with the huge grin on their faces. That is an easy answer but maybe not so easy to understand, “Community.”

Jim Brickson
Jim Brickson

Last summer, I was on a live radio spot and a comment was made that it seemed as if the Army had slipped into the cracks after the 2010 tornado disaster we all experienced.

That is somewhat of a true statement — we do have a tough time tooting our own horn and live on the pretext of ministry of presence. I don’t believe that it is so important to be seen every day posing; I do, however, believe that it is more important that people know we will be there when needed. So as a ministry of presence I stood there, not to look good, but as a reminder that for 118 years the Salvation Army has served Albert Lea and many more like it in times of need and times of celebration quietly.

From the beginning we gained national attention. The Tribune story posted about this journey was picked up by the Associated Press, and it went from Albert Lea to coast to coast in just a few days. Even with the other people attempting to break the world record, it was our city that was being highlighted all over the nation.

That was very inspiring to me and exciting that I was able to share what we get to experience every day. The first live network interview my name was pronounced Captain BrickERson and I was from Albert LeeAH (just as it sounds).

By the second day of the live interviews I was being introduced as “Now live from Albert Lea, Minnesota …” The world was watching to be part of our city. Our Ustream account had over 9,000 viewers and Power 96’s general manager said the radio station was taking an additional 10,000 hits on their Web page daily.

I was having interviews starting from the East Coast at 3 p.m. and finishing on the West Coast at 6 p.m. daily. For five days I was able to share with the world Albert Lea and so I stood there and shared the ministry of presence of Albert Lea — pronounced lee.

The Bricksons moved here in 2007 and we were welcomed with open arms. Having roots from Mankato and La Crosse, Wis., coming back here was a treat for me and my family, a good fit.

Now with seven years behind us, I look forward to what the Salvation Army has in store for us in our future. Albert Lea made our first appointment easy to succeed. I have met thousands of people here and thousands more during the bell ringing marathon.

There is a perception in life that the people who come to the Salvation Army are “those” people. We are those people. So I would guess that you who are reading this now have been helped in one way or another by the Salvation Army, and I am proud to say that we have been accepted to help in that capacity here in Albert Lea.

I was moved by the vast number of people who came and visited me at the Northbridge Mall to encourage me in any way they could at all different hours of the day or night. At no time were there less than 8 people there. Think about that, 3 a.m. and people were visiting.

So because of Matt, Jane, Ron, Fred, Tim, Sheila, you, fill in the name of the thousands of supporters, I stood there because you stood there for me.

I can go on with the litany of things that went through my mind: One hundred five hours is a long time to think. Time and time again I have been asked how I was able to stay awake that long. Here is how I did it: Just prior to the 80-hour mark I was surprised by having my parents come to share the moment. Along with them was my younger brother, who I hadn’t seen in a few years. Our father had retired from the U.S. Navy; my brother and I both served in combat.

Our dad served so we would not have to, and we served so our sons wouldn’t have to. This war has been going on now so long our sons now have served several times in combat. I stood because I know firsthand what it’s like to be there and to send your child there. Because I know what it’s like living on the values that you grow up with.

It is about the ministry of presence and sharing with the world our Albert Lea. I was able to celebrate good-hearted volunteers and unconditional love and kindness. I stood there to gain a better understanding that we all can share different opinions and be OK with that knowing that life is way too short to hold a grudge. I shook more hands, gave more hugs, asked for forgiveness, bestowed blessings and I stood there because Albert Lea is my home.


Capt. Jim Brickson is the administrator of the Albert Lea chapter of the Salvation Army. In December, he tied two other men in the United States by ringing a bell for 105 hours, setting a Salvation Army record.