Leave it to former President Ronald Reagan to sum up what it means to be a veteran of the armed forces. To mark Veterans Day, I turned to the Great Communicator, himself a veteran of military service before and during World War II. This quote is attributed to Reagan: "Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem."
Sutherland Springs. I started columns on at least four other topics before typing those words onto my computer screen. Sutherland Springs. That's the small Texas town where, last Sunday morning, a gunman walked into a Baptist church and began firing a semi-automatic rifle. He killed 26 praying and singing people and injured another 20 worshippers before leaving, being engaged in a gun battle and car chase by a citizen with a weapon, crashing his car and dying, apparently by his own hand.
Growing up on the farm, I learned from my dad the value of taking a long view of life. I don't always do it. He didn't, either, I suppose. But he did it often enough that, hanging around him on a drive from field to field or working cattle in the corrals west of the barn, I became aware that his default attitude was well beyond the moment.
Years ago, then-Gov. Bill Janklow and I were talking quietly at the back of a packed meeting room when he lifted one hand and said, "Just a second.'' Several candidates were making presentations during the meeting. Most had display tables with campaign photographs and folders. Janklow walked to one table and began removing pictures and brochures. I watched and wondered as he placed the items on the floor.
I knew marching could be a challenge, but until I took basic ROTC in college, I didn't know that, for some people, it could be impossible.
I don't know if that Soil Bank deal helped farmers the way it was supposed to 60 years ago, but it sure put a lot of pheasants on a piece of program-idled land just north of our old mailbox.
I tend to link pheasant hunting with the World Series, even though when I was young and a hunter the Series probably ended just about the time the pheasant season opened. This year the pheasant season opens Saturday. Last weekend was a residents' only pheasant season. Before that, there was a youth season. Those things didn't exist when I was young. The pheasant season opened once, on one specific Saturday. I gather the additional seasons offer more hunting opportunities.
On the south bank of the Bad River where it enters the Missouri lies a small park that contains a marker noting the spot where Lewis and Clark met a band of Teton Sioux in 1804. That's way back in the history of this part of the country, but only 13 years before the first fort was established at what became Fort Pierre in Dakota Territory. We celebrated the community's bicentennial this year with parades, music, history programs and more.
By now I should be used to the sight of a driver in the car next to me dividing attention between the road and the hand-held phone, but I continue to be surprised by how open, casual and widespread the practice is.
October's cool nights bring some of the best sleeping weather of the year, but if a couple of windows are left open and the temperature dips into the 30s, the result can be a tug-of-war for the blankets. That happened the other night when the forecast low temperature was off by about 10 degrees. Maybe the meteorologists were counting on more clouds, or perhaps a sneaky front slid in under the radar. Whatever the reason, I awoke in the dead of night and wondered for a moment if some trickster had transported me to a meat locker.