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President's Ponderings: Defining Who We Are

By Edward Luttrell - President's Ponderings Blog (7/12/10)

  JULY 14, 2010 --

Just two weeks ago I was in Washington, D.C. with my wife, son, and about 500 of my friends. While I was working, my wife and son Jacob visited many of the monuments and memorials and took in the sights around Washington. One of their stops was Mt. Vernon where they spent a good share of one day.

Jacob has always been interested in history and the world in general and is a well informed young man. He commented that he learned that George Washington defined himself as a farmer and he observed that histories don't mention his love of agriculture.

Washington may have been the general that kept alive the dream of independence and he may have been the first President and in the process created a working nation. But when he defined who he was, he said a farmer.

How do you define a farmer? Is he or she a person who takes risks, but is educated and experienced enough to find success? Is it a person who is willing and tough enough to work long hours when necessary.

I believe that we should embrace the picture of Washington as the proto-type of the American farmer. Someone who puts his heart, mind, and soul into growing crops, raising livestock, and today also growing fuel. Highly educated and willing to get dirty, committed to a lifestyle, their family and the community they are blessed to live in. Someone who answers the call to duty when their country needs them, and seldom is far from God.

While Washington thought of himself as a farmer, history often ignores that central part of his life in favor of the more attractive general or President. But why is his own definition of himself so often overlooked? Why are farmers in general overlooked or even ignored so often?

It is possible that American farmers are so good at their chosen occupation and so quiet about it that their silence is taken by the public as proof it isn't so tough. Maybe it is just that they are not vocal about it.

Agriculture faces many challenges today, from government regulation to attacks from anti-agriculture groups. One small things we can do is to take time to look at the initiation ceremonies of the Grange and how we use these powerful lessons to teach the critical role of agriculture and the importance of farmers.

All of us who do not make our livings via farming need to join with that small segment of our nation's population who are farmers. Together we must make sure that we define what a farmer is, not others who have no idea of what is involved in being a farmer.

The Grange is an agricultural organization and as such, continues to educate and teach what it means to be a farmer in today's America. Our membership is not made up of just farmers, but those with an interest in agriculture.

George Washington would be happy to see organizations that remember the high position that agriculture occupies and the importance of the American farmer. Would he be as happy about how many Americans define farmers?

Let's all continue working together to ensure that the we define what a farmer is!



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