Independence Day, our "4th of July," is one of my favorite times of the year. It's a time to celebrate our homeland, its history, its heroes, and appreciate our good fortune in being able to call this free country our home.
In my hometown of Towner, Independence Day was rodeo time, and our ranching community has hosted a small town rodeo in one of the state's biggest arenas ever since my father, uncle and other community-minded cowboys put the posts in the ground and strung the wire for the first rodeo in 1951. Towns across our state showcase their communities with rodeos, barbeques, car shows, parades, reunions, concerts, fireworks-- you name it, some town's probably doing it.
I've seen the 4th of July parade in Towner from most every angle. I've watched and enjoyed it for years, ridden pony and horse in it as a youngster, campaigned in it as a candidate and a state senator. When I think of parades, I think of the Will Rogers quote, "We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by." The same applies to parades - we can't all be in the parade because somebody has to stand on the street and clap as it goes by. In Towner, the spectators get two shots at the parade, once as it goes up Main Street heading north; then again as it turns around and comes back heading south. And nobody leaves. Everyone stays to see the other side of the horses, floats and vehicles.
This year, I'll be in the Mandan parade on Independence Day. I'll be walking the route with my family and our supporters, meeting as many people as possible along the route. I'll do what I ask my kids to do when they meet people -- I'll shake their hand and look them in the eye. I don't believe in drive-by campaigning where politicians just pass by and expect you'll give them your vote. I'll ask for the chance to earn their vote. That's one way to celebrate our freedom and our democracy.
And the day after the grills have gone cold, the cold drinks have gone warm and the fireworks are just gone, Nikki and I will get up to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary on July 5. We celebrate our country's independence on the Fourth, and, on the Fifth, we thank our maker for giving us each other to depend on. It is a good time of year.
Happy Independence Day everyone.