The 4th of July is pretty special to me. I guess when you grow up in Wamego the 4th of July will always be the high mark of the summer. For those of you who might not know, Wamego goes all out with a huge parade, a carnival and an awesome fireworks display. This event is one of those things that returns me back to some of the best memories of childhood.
Growing up on the farm, I didn’t get to see my town friends very often in the summer. The 4th of July was one of those opportunities to see my buddies. It was one of the few days of the summer that Dad would take off, well, with one big exception, wheat harvest. If wheat harvest was done, we celebrated the 4th.
One of my best memories was riding in with Dad on the final load of wheat; it had to have been either the 3rd or the 4th of July. I felt very important riding shotgun in the “big” truck, watching as the road to town roll by. I “helped” Dad as he weighed in and dumped the load. When we weighed back out the elevator manager gave me a pop, a very rare treat when I was a kid. It must have been a good year because on the way home we stopped and bought some fireworks. That is a 4th I will never forget.
I have many other great 4th of July memories. Barbeques with family friends, time spent at the carnival with my buddies, and the sights and sounds of the parade. I have to admit, I love a good parade, I even get a kick out of seeing the politicians work the crowd (yes, I am warped). So when I had my own family, the Wamego 4th of July experience is something I shared with them and something we continue to share each year.
But the 4th of July is more than barbeques, parades and fireworks. It is a time to celebrate this great nation we live in and the freedoms we all enjoy. Make no doubt about it; we live in the greatest nation in the world, that is not bragging, just a statement of fact. The United States is looked to for leadership in areas such as finance, technology and culture and we should all be very proud of that. It is up to our democratically elected government to stabilize the world and maintain the peace and I could not be prouder of that or be more humbled to think of the men and women charged with keeping the peace.
However, the fact that hits the closest to home for me is that we lead the world in the production of food and fiber. Maybe that is why I felt like such a big shot all those years ago when I rode in with that load of wheat. In my own small way I was already a proud producer of the food we all eat. We lead the world of agriculture in innovation. We are able to produce more food, with fewer resources and with less impact on our environment. That is something as a farmer that I am very proud of.
We are so blessed to live in a nation where we can go to a 24 hour grocery store 7 days a week and know that the shelves will be stocked with many, many choices of the same product. We have the assurance that the food on those shelves is safe and wholesome. All of these healthy choices and we spend less of our total income on food than anywhere else in the world. For most of us in the United States lack of food is not an issue.
Our safe, abundant food supply is just one of the blessings we all share. Often I think we each take what we have for granted. The rest of the world is in envy and awe of the life most of us live. Folks, we have it awfully easy and for that we should be thankful. Most of us live a life of abundance and luxury, especially by the rest of the world’s standards.
I know that when I see the flag come down the parade route this year that I will take a moment to stop and give thanks for all I have. As I watch the fireworks, I will think of what they symbolize and remember all the brave men and women who have protected this great nation and pray for those who are still in harm’s way protecting her yet. Yes, I am a lucky man to live in the greatest nation and to be able to be a proud producer of food.