Reclaiming our Pioneer Heritage

By Paul Hosford, Albion, Nebraska (distributed with permission from the Omaha World Herald)
By reclaiming the best of our pioneer heritage, by applying past lessons to the future, we can, like the original pioneers, make rural areas prosper. These ideas are as applicable now as when I first wrote them in 2010 (Omaha World Herald, Midlands Voices: Re-pioneering important to revitalizing rural areas, February 1, 2010)… perhaps even more so.

The successful pioneers were courageous. They persevered. They made sacrifices to realize their dreams.  The pioneers were builders, innovators and entrepreneurs. They built farmsteads and dry-goods stores, mills, roads and bridges.  They used the latest technology everywhere they could.

The pioneers cared about community. They created organizations that brought people together to quilt and to husk, to sing and to pray. The pioneers weren’t afraid of diversity — people from vastly different places, with vastly different customs and languages, worked together to settle the Plains.

The pioneers didn’t just farm and raise livestock — they were at the same time carpenters, teachers, politicians and planners.  The pioneers were visionaries. They could see in their hearts what the future could be and understood that through hard work and focus, they could achieve their visions. The pioneers were optimists — they didn’t let the challenges of rural life dissuade them.

Imagine if more people in rural areas could once again be as inspired by a vision of what the future holds, as reluctant to let challenges stop them, as open to new ideas, as willing to do what has to be done as their predecessors were.