Jack's Insights July 2016

By Jack Whittier, Director
UNL Panhandle Extension District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center

My wife, Robynn, and I had a nice experience in early June as we were on our way from Scottsbluff to Broken Bow to the Nebraska Cattlemen meeting. As we traveled along Highway 385 nearing Alliance, we began to see American Flags posted along the highway on both sides. We then saw numerous motorcycles and riders coming toward us. We pulled to the side to pay honor to these and wondered what it all meant.

Dr. Jack WhittierWhen we stopped for gas in Alliance, Robynn inquired of the clerk what this was about. We learned that the Vietnam and Korean Honor Flight was passing through and the community had turned out to show respect and honor those who served in these conflicts. As I investigated further, I found that the Honor Flight Network is a non-profit group with a mission “…to transport America’s Veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.”

I’ve always been a patriotic person, and still am. I feel a reverence each time I see the American flag flying, or pass a member of the military on the street or in the airport. I have always held our Founding Fathers in the highest regard as men inspired to set forth a form of governance that is still the envy of the world, despite what we frequently read and see in the press.

I recognize that there were also many Founding Mothers as well, like Martha Washington, and Abigail Smith Adams – wife of John Adams, though less known and unsung, but who supported their husbands during the American Revolution and framing of the Constitution of this country. These women obviously contributed many ideas, suggestions and solutions to their husbands during late night chats in their homes with their families near them. 

I’ve also always been a country music fan, and still am.  So it is probably natural that one of my favorite songs, particularly at this time of the year when we reflect on what transpired on July 4, 1776, is “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood.

While it may be easy to lose hope when we see chaos growing in many segments of our world today, or to lose sight of what this great nation has and means, I cherish the words of this song. I, for one, “…thank my lucky stars to be living here today, ‘cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.”

As we celebrate the birth of our country this weekend, I invite us each to reflect on how fortunate we are to be Americans.  I’m proud to be an American and all that this country stands for!  I’m grateful for the men and women who serve in many roles in our country today, so that I can have what I have and provide the opportunity to my children and grandchildren to do the same.  Yes, this is a challenging time for our country, but that can be said for many times during the 240 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed declaring this land a free and independent land - and proclaiming certain “…unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I’m ending my article this month with the full lyrics of Lee Greenwood’s signature song.  I invite you to pause and thank God for the blessing of living in this Promised Land!  I’m proud to be an American!

If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,

And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.

I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,

‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.

 

And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.

And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.

‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.

 

From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee,

across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea,

 

From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA,

Well, there's pride in every American heart,

and it's time to stand and say:

 

I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.

And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.

And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.

‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.