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As farmers and ranchers are wrapping up fall harvests and rounding up cattle, Monday is a special day they will be unified with their urban cousins in taking time to remember past and present veterans.

The timeless contributions of veterans should never go unnoticed although for many years celebrations were attended by only a handful of folks and Veterans Day is more noted for the closure of administrative functions of federal, state and local governments than the sacrifice of millions of men and women during times of war and peace.

Veterans Day was formerly named Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, for the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I—the war that was supposed to end all wars. Of course World War I was followed by World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War in the 20th century and the Iraq and Afghanistan War in the 21st century. Throughout it all, the prairie produced men and women who answered the call to duty even when it did not seem popular to do so.

The military giants of our country, admired by Americans, also hated war. The High Plains region produced Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who was the architect of the D-Day invasion that liberated Europe from Nazi Germany. Much has been written as he addressed the troops before the invasion on June 6, 1944. Eisenhower also penned a personal note that in case the invasion failed he would accept the blame himself. Historians noted that Ike was annoyed that the note was published but it showed the compassion and humanity he had for the men and women under his command. Ike knew that many were from the heartland; some were freshly out of wheat and corn fields.

Eisenhower, from Abilene, Kansas, had an agricultural background and he never forgot his agricultural roots. As the nation’s 34th president he penned two famous comments, courtesy of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, which showed his admiration of farmers and ranchers in 1956:

“The proper role of government, however, is that of partner with the farmer—never his master. By every possible means we must develop and promote that partnership—to the end that agriculture may continue to be a sound, enduring foundation for our economy and that farm living may be a profitable and satisfying experience.”

Special message to the Congress on agriculture, Jan. 9, 1956

“You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

Address at Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, Sept. 25, 1956

“As we have now eclipsed the century mark of the founding of Veterans Day, the agricultural community is the heart of our country. The courage and willingness to do what is right, even in tough economic times, is alive and well in the High Plains region, so take time to thank and remember those who served for their heartbeats made the difference.”

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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