Visiting Our Agricultural Heritage

Initiate patriotism alongside agriculture

Published online: Jun 05, 2008 Feature Nancy I. Butler
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In a time filled with economic woes and world-wide commotion we must look to our country's founders and initiate patriotism alongside agricultural roots.

Emerson says, "The first farmer was the first man, and all historic nobility rests on possession and use of land."
It's true; the first achievements of man may well be defined in the science of agriculture. Our Founding Fathers deemed agriculture as an integral element for building this great nation. In much of their writing they offered sound advice and worthy warnings for keeping our country free.

They believed then, as we do now, that making a life in agriculture is much more than providing sustenance as it also teaches integrity, physical labor, purpose, negotiating skills and order.
A lifestyle where miracles are a daily occurrence is not to be taken lightly-whether it is watching a corn seed burst into life from the warm moist soil, witnessing the birth of a newborn calf, feeling the cool rain fall from the sky to the thirsty plants or catching a filtered view of a total eclipse of the sun.

Miracles, it seems, are asked for by those of us troubled during times of commotion in our nation and world-wide. It becomes more essential to come together as citizens. We look to our leaders for guidance and encouragement, hoping to find glimmers of purpose during events that appear daunting.

Although the times seem more complex than during the founding of our country, it is comforting to know that our forefathers left many wise words of advice for us, their posterity.
During the intensity of the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine wrote, "I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." Paine's words inspired those soldiers fighting in dreadful circumstances for a cause they would die for.

As we ponder our Independence Day Celebration we are given the opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality Thomas Jefferson referred to as "the declaratory charter of our rights."
Inspiring the colonists and advocating for the American cause was profound at its time, and equally profound is the inspiration and cause we are struggling with today. Our purpose in agriculture is to continue the traditions founded as we have been endowed with the richest heritage in the world.

We need to read the inspiration characteristic of our Founding Fathers. Reflect on the motivating speeches and writings of those immortal leaders. They can influence us today as we sort through the confusion.
Initiating patriotism during these trying times takes an effort by all of us. Knowing that the first citizens of America were farmers is gratifying. They sought to establish homes, farms and businesses that provided sustenance to their families as well as neighboring towns and cities.

Our agricultural heritage was built on a strong and forthright foundation. Numerous times our country mobilized to lend support to the war effort.
Examples of support for WWII from the agricultural community are found in The New York Times, 1917. The Times printed an article that "Urges City Farming As A Patriotic Duty," another article in 1918 where an Indiana farmer's story tells us "How an Indiana Man Makes Patriotic Effort Profitable."

Both articles describe the patriotic essence of participating through the value of an agricultural program. The Department of Agriculture at that time sent out a pamphlet titled, "Agricultural Program for 1918," with the idea to ".help the nation's farmers increase production as a war essential."

I wince at the divisive ideals portrayed today where integrity, honor and forthright actions are mocked on daily television shows and news reports.
Although much has changed through the years, there are many things that have not. The farm family was the basic unit shaping life in America. For over 200 years, agriculture has changed the countryside while providing rural strength. That strength is the dependable backbone of our American Heritage.