I’m sitting at a gas station in Northern Wisconsin. I was snowmobiling in the UP the last few days, and neither one of my arms or hands work very well after gripping handlebars for 360 miles of riding!

So, instead of writing my regular weekly editorial, I’d like to share part of an email submittal we received from Toby Tyler, a 1997 graduate of St. Ansgar, who currently lives in Minneapolis.

He had some kind words for our paper, and keeps up with the town’s happenings by reading the EJ. Thanks for the support Toby, and for sharing your well written thoughts!

“One of your recent editorials on the spread of political division within the County regarding the Pledge of Allegiance showcased your range of taking on bigger topics, delicately I might add.

And just as I noted above taking small bits and making them profound, you did an incredible job of taking a heavy hitting big issue and making it small. Nice work.

During a recent trip out to Washington DC I was able to steal away for a few hours for some much needed “Toby Time” to refill my bucket. I chose to visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

As I toured, I came across a few provocative exhibits. One was the origination of the Pledge of Allegiance as a way to instill American nationalism and was quickly adopted by the nation from Francis Bellamy’s words dating back to 1862. Near that exhibit was question, “Do We Need a Shared National Identify”.

How ironic that something so simple to unite can and has also always been divisive. My hope is that a narrative within Mitchell County to allow the values of all can be expressed. The First Amendment simply notes “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”.

History teaches us that while the electoral process of Board Members is not and should not be the only means of which individuals have a voice via the ballot box. Petitions, the press, letter, demonstrations, while small in scale, are important and were exercised at that Board meeting.

While I am very much removed and am therefore unclear how big this is, my challenge to the community is to listen. And to remember that now more than ever, the “how” is just as important as the “what”. By doing that, “taking sides” will diminish.”

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