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Remember what binds us together . . . or else

Friends and families gathered this holiday to celebrate the grace-derived diversity that created America. Remember it, preserve it or lose it.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

July 4, 2016

2 Min Read

In Sunday school yesterday morning, we were singing “My Country, 'Tis of Thee”. I was really into the words until we hit “love thy rocks and rills”. Then the farm kid in me came out, and my mind wandered: I wore out gloves picking up rocks. And today, rills – as in erosion – aren’t a good thing.

But remember, that song was written in 1831 in Massachusetts, a state that still loves its rocks. When you have so many, what can you do, but love them. Right?

Rills are a different matter, though. But I digress.


Enroute to church, I passed fields of harvested wheat and stacks upon stacks of big straw bales, vibrantly golden in early morning’s light. Those bales would soon be whisked away for double-crop soybeans or cover crop seeding. That’s diversity in an agrarian sense.

What we must remember

There’s a far greater purpose beyond the beer, brats, BBQs and “booms” that brought America together this weekend. We’re celebrating the success of our quest for independence, which melded early America’s diversity together.

Our founders, even British Loyalist Benjamin Franklin, discovered we were much stronger together than being separated by our differences. In fact, eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence representing the 13 colonies were born in Britain or Ireland. That, too, was diversity – strongly influenced by something imparted to us called “grace”. Even our forefathers credited that imparted grace to a far greater power – God.

Yes, we can downplay it, whitewash it, even blot it out of our minds as much as we want. But it doesn’t change the fact or importance of remembering it. That imparted grace is what helped us see the greater good of working together. It gave us freedom with personal restraint. Ultimately, it made American great – a nation of unparalleled blessings.

With those freedoms, we’ve forged the most productive agricultural system the world has ever known, plus the science and technology to continue growing it. Due to our personally-restrained freedoms, America is still where every person seeking freedom dreams of coming to.

We can lose it by forgetting

We all differ from each other in some way. Even our children aren’t duplicates of ourselves. That, alone, is sometimes a blessing.

But as a nation, it is imperative we come together on big picture concerns and issues – even agree to disagree without violence or behind-the-scenes manipulation. Our nation needs leaders who understand we must blend our diversities or be destroyed by political polarization.

Some might argue that it will take divine intervention to fix America. Then you’d better get to praying. And remember, you and I still must be part of making it happen.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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