Gard, Robert Edward / My land, my home, my Wisconsin : the epic story of the Wisconsin farm and farm family from settlement days to the present
Wisconsin is a kaleidoscope of change -- the land transformed. . . , pp. 83-96 PDF (8.8 MB)
rural "Wisconsin Idea" is that young people really are returning to the land. It's basic with Americans to want land, to have it, to farm it, to love it. They do actually say, in Wisconsin, This is my land, my home, my Wisconsin, because the land is so essen- tially theirs. And the young folks are coming home again. On many farms there is still an old dooryard tree standing, where the families once gathered on Sunday afternoons in summer. And when families come home now the old tree, perhaps a hundred years old, will mean a special thing: that the young people and the old are coming back to the homeland where their folks started it all. This is the great meaning and the mighty cre- scendo, the Wisconsin theme repeated again and again. Wisconsin is still a family state. The farms large and small are mostly family farms. It isn't just a woman and a man and a plow any more. Things have gone way, way beyond that. Yet the spirit is the same, and we sense that the spirit that arose from struggle will become stronger, more per- vading. Technology? Sure, we've got that in abun- dance, and far fewer farms, but faith is there. It is faith in the land, faith in man and man's strength and his will to survive. It is faith in the past, and faith that the Wisconsin farm country still has a potentially powerful future. It is also faith in God and in the nation. That hasn't really changed. A lot of the farm places are really beautiful. The desperate human struggle isn't there any more, not like it used to be. But then, maybe that's good. The thing that does remain is the "spirit of Wisconsin," or as the preachers used to say: "Lord, we are neighbors. We have a duty to one another." If times are changed, so be it, but the faith of people has not changed very much. Not really. We are doing different kinds of things, no doubt, but the spirit of the family on the farm, the home, the whole knowledge that Wisconsin is a home state, a neigh- bor state, and that people here are home folks. That's the great thing, and a thing we'll never lose. It is too deep in our bone and muscle and our blood. There is the climax of the story . . . the swelling of the symphony . . . us, a people ... a farm state, a farm people, a Wisconsin people! THEN, FOR CLOSING, IT IS A HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, FOR A FULFILLMENT OF HUMAN STRUGGLE, IN A NEW LAND, IN A NEW DREAM ... 96
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