By Glynn Young
American farmers are no strangers to what it takes to help make a country free – and what it takes to keep a country free.
In 1776, the American colonies were largely populated by farm families. The vast majority of people did their work on a farm. When the call came to fight for independence, it was largely farmers who set aside their plows, picked up their muskets, and headed to Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill, Trenton, and ultimately to Yorktown.
Two hundred and twenty seven years later, that tradition continues. Farmers comprise less than two percent of the population of the United States, yet rural communities provide 40 percent of our military personnel. The odds are good that a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan comes from a farming community.
No matter where you talk to a farmer – the kitchen table, the barn, the field, the local coffee shop – it doesn’t take long to understand what’s important. They talk about agriculture, yes, but it is agriculture in the context of family, faith, community, and country.
They’re an optimistic lot, for the most part. They have to be. How else do you deal with weather, the government, people preaching gloom and doom, people criticizing you for what you do even when they’re never seen you do it and likely wouldn’t know what it is if they did see it, and costs that always seem to go up? Only an optimist could consider and deal with all of that and still know that, come next spring, seed will be planted.
From that optimism also comes a faith in their country. The future of the country may not look especially promising right now. Farmers worry, like we all do, about what kind of world our children are inheriting. And they see us more worried about what makes us different than what we share in common. But they know that, it its very core, there is something important, something vital and worth fighting for, in this nation we call the United States.
So it is farmers, and farm families, we think about this Independence Day. They feed the other 98 percent of us, and they make an outsized contribution to defending our freedom and liberty. Not because they have to, but because they want to.
We owe them a debt we cannot pay.
Photograph by Julie Gentry via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.