Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
I grew up on the Kansas plains. On the sun-baked, windswept prairie, my grandfather and many others like him eked out their living…
The heat of the summer sun there is searing. The rain that falls too seldom is precious; literally, liquid life that spatters down from the sky at the order of a seemingly capricious God. So dry.
The sight of a Kansas wheat field in the summer is beautiful. Acre upon acre of golden stalks dance and roll like ocean waves at the behest of the endless wind. Then comes June, and the harvest.
At harvest time, we cousins gathered on Grandpa’s farm. Running barefoot through the field, we tried our best to avoid the stubble left behind by the gawping mouth of the combine. Then at last we’d reach the truck, clamber up, and tumble in.
We buried hands and feet in the shifting grains as the combine circled the field, letting it run through our fingers like sand. Then popping kernels into our mouths, we’d sit in that baking heat and chew ’til it turned into gum. Once the combine was full, Grandpa would stop to unload it in a stream of solid gold as the mountain in the wheat truck grew.
“My turn!” A round in the combine’s cab with Grandpa, sitting up high, watching as the great teeth of the machine gobbled up the rows of wheat. And, finally, a trip into the air-conditioned house for his favorite–bottles of Pepsi-Cola with ice, and some cookies dispensed by Grandma’s hand.
These are my people. These are my roots.
Here in Elkhart County where I now live, I’m surrounded by fields of soy beans and corn. Planted in hope by men of the earth; cultivated with machinery and prayers; and watered, at times, by their tears. On our country road, I walk past their sprouting dreams, and I say a prayer. For these, too, are my people.
In our local factories, hard-working men and women provide for their families, pay their bills, and exercise their God-given right, that wonderful “pursuit of happiness,” by laboring away in our factories. With their ingenuity, their sweat, their creativity, and their hands, they build the RVs that carry you and others across this great and beautiful land.
Yes, these are my people.
It pains me to hear them spoken of with disrespect, these people, my family, my friends. For when you say “farmers,” I hear names, see faces, know stories, walk past their fields, and they deserve our truest respect.
It would be decent and noble for you to apologize, Mayor Bloomberg. I am sure that you’d find forgiveness, for that’s how they are, my people.
It would be decent and noble for you to thank them for what they do, for what they give, for how they live. Because in the end, they are still your fellow Americans.
Rhonda (who is your fellow American, too)