This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, USA the week of 3/15/2015.

Every once in a while you have to stop what you are doing and take a step back, take a deep breath and take time to reflect and smell the roses. As we get so immersed in everyday events and consumed with a social media that surrounds us in some type of artificial bubble it is a relief to take a time out and allow the world to go by. There is no better place to do this than in small town America and this is indicative of our own rural roots of North Central Louisiana and specifically Union Parish.
There is a tradeoff to where a person lives and what they receive from their lives. The larger cities provide a conduit to a multitude of opportunities. Museums, the arts, cultural occasions and a multitude of services provided by a wide tax base are some of the effects that would draw an individual to live in a less rural setting. The larger the city the greater these opportunities to some extent. We have recently witnessed the collapse of Detroit and had good ole American values been implemented and managed a great city would not have been forced into bankruptcy. It is these values that is ingrained in rural America.
America’s rural roots come from the founding of the country by Europeans and was present in North America before the first Viking or Spanish Explorer arrived on American soil. As America grew cities formed and the farms grew. America migrated west from the Atlantic coast to the plains of the Mid-West, the panhandle of the Gulf, the swamps of South Louisiana and the hills of North Louisiana and Arkansas. The faint lights of farms dotted America’s countryside and small towns sprang up to provide the creature comforts for the rural residents. While some of these towns grew into cities the vast majority remained as small outposts of civilization for a gigantic country.
What rural America is lacking in cultural advantages it is more than compensated for with good hard working individualism empowered with a free spirit and to some extent with an ability to be self-reliant. This perpetuates into a work ethic that builds companies, leads armies and grows a nation with a spirit that finds happiness in the basics of life.
A young man that came from very humble beginnings told how he loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing and due to harsh economic times had to work at a young age to help support an impoverished family. It all proved to be life lessons learned in rural America to develop a leader that would become the supreme allied commander during World War II and ultimately a two term president that led America to a prosperous eight year period. Dwight Eisenhower is a legacy to rural American leadership values. And this is just one of thousands of examples of rural Americans that have risen to the call to build a nation.
There is more to rural America than just the leadership development that the country brings to society. Some say that rural America is a slower paced life style. Instead it is a life style based on different pleasures and rewards. Rural America receives pleasure from the small things in life. The sight of spring as a world of flowers explode into a multitude of colors, a thank you and a smile for holding a door open, the taste of a magnificent feast as one samples homemade dishes prepared by numerous men and women during a family reunion or the tranquilizing smell of an infant wrapped in a towel following the bath; this is rural America. To say that it is a slow life style though, is anything but true. Follow my so as he is up before the sun rises to hunt ducks before going into the office. Or watch a farmer when baby chicks arrive or the man putting on rain gear in the middle of winter to get to the oil rig. Then observe how these individuals embrace life during their time off with the ball games and Friday night lights and other pleasures. No, rural America is not slow; its’ just a different kind of fast.
Personally, I am proud to declare that I am from rural America and even more proud to say that I am from rural Union Parish. Where else can a person collect his thoughts on the way to work where there are only four stop lights in thirty miles? Where else can a person live within eyesight of one of the loveliest lakes in the region and experience a life style where a person feels safe and protected. If I want to take a gun and go shoot tin cans in a open field I am fifteen minutes from that adventure but if I want to see a play then Monroe is thirty miles in the other direction. If I want to attend church, I don’t to have to worry about finding one, that is certain. And if I am unable to get to the church there is all ways someone who will volunteer to get me there. While there may be more physical attributes to urban America’s there is certainly more opportunity to enjoy life in rural America.

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