Uniting around freedom on the Fourth

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

I don’t need a badge or a gun, or even Miss Kitty. Just being grand marshal of the Star Spangled Spectacular Parade is plenty enough for me, Festus.

To follow in the tradition of Bob Feller, who threw the heater in Van Meter to Nile Kinnick on a town team, is grand indeed.

And in your own hometown, with Jake Kurtz driving unless he stands me up.

In the great Iowa way, Jake’s mother-in-law Maggie Martinez came into the office with a box of donut holes with blue dots on them to ask if I would accept the honor. The theme is “Unity,” she said.

I like that. It’s what Storm Lake is about, really. Everybody from around the world comes to this unlikely place. On the Fourth of July they emerge to celebrate liberty and justice. This is a place where people can find freedom and seek justice. People here do unite around those ideas.

If you don’t think so, just ask someone from El Salvador, who comes to Storm Lake and finds common cause with Mexicans and Burmese: to build a peaceful and prosperous life with your neighbors. Leave your blood feuds and snark at the city limits. The unity theme is especially appropriate right now.

Storm Lake unites around the idea that everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s on display all day.We unite around the health of our lake and this splendid little town and university. We unite around the Storm Lake soccer and football teams — they even let the St. Mary’s kids play these days. There is hope for the Middle East. We rally around our schools, we offer pies made from artery-choking lard when someone falls ill with a bad heart, we help harvest corn when the neighbor can’t.

We unite around the hungry with the Upper Des Moines Food Pantry. We unite around the idea of honor for country every Memorial Day. We unite around Iowa — we can call it hick but someone else better not. And we have the best slogan of any state: “Our liberties we prize, our rights we will maintain.”

It takes a lot of unity to keep a place like Storm Lake the way it is supposed to be.

John Snyder, whose picture is on the front page, is one of my best buddies for life. I have no idea what his politics are. I don’t care. He continues to crack me up, and he is kind. My old friend Steve Tate is a solid conservative who, like me, loves Ray Wylie Hubbard. He says he skips my editorials and goes straight to the obituaries. He never misses an issue. That is my Storm Lake. That’s what makes it a community.

We stick up for each other and watch out for each other. We leave each other be. We live and let live. What more, in the end, could someone want? That and to be the marshal on the Fourth.