Friday, September 23, 2011

Working for Broadband Access

On the third and fourth of October, the National Grange has the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and other rural partners to sponsor a Fly-In in D.C. to advocate for broadband build out.

There is currently a lot going on in the broadband arena. Proposed mergers and changes to the Universal Service Fund are the major concerns today and both will expedite broadband in rural and non-contiguous areas, which have currently had little if any broadband choice or affordable service.

The Grange has a long history of advocating for rural infrastructure. First we worked for affordable access to railroads, then highway improvement, rural electrification, telephone access and today continue to demand high speed internet access.

The “America’s Broadband Connectivity Plan” presents a balanced approach to changing the focus from telephone to broadband in utilizing the Universal Service Fund without disrupting existing phone service. The Grange is supporting this change along with many of our partners.

Not having access to affordable broadband has dramatic impact to rural America. Small business, farms and ranches, and anyone wanting to be connected to real-time American society depends upon being able to use the internet and dial-up doesn’t meet the need.

The Grange has a history of not just advocating, but showing up and working within the system to make a difference. It is a pleasure to be working with the U.S. Cattlemen and our rural coalition on the broadband issue as our organizations share a deep love, concern, and dedication to a competitive rural America.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Constitution Day

This Friday is Constitution Day. In 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional Convention gathered and signed the document that they had created. That document was then sent to the states to be ratified.

The 17th of September is truly the birth of the American government. While our nation was born in 1776, the Revolutionary War and the struggles of creating a functioning government took 11more years.

I would suggest that every person take a moment on Friday to read over the Constitution and the 26 amendments that have been made to it. This document isn’t for the rich or powerful, it is for every American to read and understand. It lays out the principle that government must be controlled by the people, not the other way around.

A number of organizations give out copies free of charge and you can download your own electronic copy on your computer and/or your smartphone.

Organizations such as the Grange owe their existence to this document. Government power is specified and limited. Our communities are not controlled by a federal government; instead local citizens have the control.

Take a moment this Friday and take another look at the founding document of our American Republic. Our nation and our Constitution are truly unique and every citizen should understand our nation’s structure.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 11

Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. The Pentagon has been repaired, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center may be gone, but rebuilding proceeds at the site of the worst attack on American soil, and a permanent memorial to the passengers of flight 93 in Pennsylvania is already a reality.

Remembering what happened 10 years ago is important. Many of us vividly recall what we were doing when we heard of the attack. Others have vague recollections or have only seen pictures because of their age. We should remember and honor those who died, but also those who survived and have dealt with the loss of their Mom or Dad, a Son or Daughter, a Husband or Wife, or their friends.

September 11, 2001 was a day that changed the lives of many Americans. Some dealt with personal loss, others joined the military or became more involved in their community. We suddenly became aware that others in the world hated us and were willing to die in order to kill us.

For me on the West Coast, the day was a shock as we saw on TV the terror and destruction that New Yorkers experienced. I felt sadness for those there and anger toward those who had committed this atrocity. The days following 9/11 were ones that showed how badly our nation had been struck, and also the resiliency of the American people, as we dealt with the grounding of all air traffic and so much more. About the 20th of that month, I flew to Baltimore and took a shuttle into D.C. for a scheduled interview at the National Grange headquarters. As we entered the city after 11 p.m., the attacks become more personal and emotional than they had been. As we passed the White House and saw soldiers with their rifles at the ready, standing on every street corner, I felt the change our country had experienced in a much more emotional way.

This year on the 11th, I’ll be at an event that our Grange co-sponsors for the community of Boring, Ore. We will remember the importance of the day with several special activities, and celebrate the importance of community spirit in Boring.

I hope this Sunday, you will take a moment to reflect on what happened ten years ago, remember those who lost their lives or had their lives changed forever, and think about the strength it has given the people of our nation. September 11 was a horrible day for America, but is was also a moment that showed each of us the strength we have as Americans.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day

Labor Day was originally proposed by members of labor unions and was designed to remind people of the important role unions have played in benefiting workers in America. While parades and picnics are sponsored by unions across the country, for most the day is the conclusion of summer activities.

The achievements of labor union members are numerous and deserve both recognition and a day of rest for them. Yet, this weekend will be spent working hard by many and they will take little time to relax.

Farmers are in the midst of harvesting many different crops and caring for their livestock. Labor day is often a day where they break for a few extra minutes and join the family for a picnic before hurrying back to work. Those who produce the food that feeds us at this weekend’s picnics, the fiber that covers the tables and clothes us, and even the fuel that allows us to drive to the park are often ignored by society. Take a few minutes and consider the labor the farmer and rancher gives to allow each of us to take a relaxing three-day weekend.

Also hard at work this weekend are thousands of volunteers. Many fairs and festivals are going on this weekend and few remember the volunteers who give their time and energy to ensure that fair goers have a great time. The number of volunteers at each fair is staggering, with those volunteers making the difference between success and failure. Grange members are manning information booths and food booths, they are aiding the youth programs, and working behind the scenes at countless fairs and festivals.

As you celebrate Labor Day this year, take a moment and thank God that so many are willing to work for all!