Holiday season reminds us to work together – the cooperative way

We are all warmed by fires we did not build, and we drink from wells we did not dig. That was a sentiment expressed at a recent cooperative meeting I attended. It’s based on the notion that a significant part of the cooperative’s mission is to enrich the lives of our member-owners through community support. When this issue of the Nodak Neighbor hits your mailbox, the holiday season will be in full swing. However, as I write this article, Veteran’s Day has just passed, and I can’t help but think how that sentiment embodies the spirit of our country’s veterans.

Veteran’s Day is the federal holiday that celebrates the service of all men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Across the country, veterans are honored by parades, special ceremonies and services. Federal offices are closed, mail is not delivered, and school is not in session. Many of us may attend one of these events, just enjoy the day off from work, or take a moment to reach out a handshake to a serviceman or servicewoman and thank them for what they do. To me, Veterans Day serves as a reminder that every day our veterans deserve our gratitude for the fires they’ve built and the wells they’ve dug on our behalf.

Volumes have been written on the sacrifices of our brave men and women in the military, and the freedom that is provided, or at least maintained on their watch. In the U.S., we are rich with personal rights and freedoms. These freedoms were bestowed on us by our founding fathers when they developed a government controlled by the citizens rather than a government that is served by its people. These freedoms are routinely denied by other governments around the globe, and in many cases they seek to limit our personal liberties and our way of life. Although they were initially granted by our forefathers, much of our personal freedom is maintained only through the service and sacrifices of our veterans. I have never served in the military, but my father was a World War II veteran. Like most servicemen of that era, he did his duty and asked for little in return. He was proud of his service, but also very stoic about any accolades. He experienced the ravages of war, but never spoke of it and genuinely hoped no one would ever have to endure them again. Even in his final days, he seemed more concerned for “our boys over there” as he called them, then he was about his own wellbeing. I’m thankful I got the chance to express my gratitude to him before he passed away, and it reminds me that veterans are good examples of service and citizenship for all of us to follow.

As we enter the holiday season and give thanks for our blessings, take a moment and think about the fires and the wells that have been provided to us by our nation’s veterans. Then, ask yourself if you are doing your part to provide for those who can’t provide for themselves, or for those that follow behind us. The old cliché of many hands makes light work is the cooperative way. Together, we can make a difference.
In a perfect world, people and nations would just get along, and we wouldn’t need armaments and veterans. Unfortunately, that’s not the way of the world, and we will continue to have unrest. As this holiday season falls upon us, we would like to wish you all peace and joy in your families, in your backyard, and across the world. From our family to yours, Happy Holidays.