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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)

Page 96

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!

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