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COLUMNIST MARILYN HAGERTY: A 1935 tribute to North Dakota

An essay written by William Bidelman Jr. at Central High School was read on Oct. 20, 1935, in the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge.

Each year, a tribute to states written by high school students was read in the chapel.

Before the essay by the Central High School student, essays by Bismarck and Fargo students had been read.

The tribute by Bidelman was judged the best submitted in a competition at Central.

It read in part as follows:

"Ours is a state of broad, expansive plains, covered with an ocean of wheat, rolling gently in the soft summer breezes.

"Ours is a state of rolling prairies, gradually inclining in the west to level plateaus. Ours is a state of rocky, impenetrable, beautiful bad lands.

"Ours is a state of rapidly growing industries and hardy, up-to-date cities.

"Ours is a state of mighty rivers, commanding the sweep of a continent, the Red flowing north to the Arctic Ocean, and the Missouri flowing south to the warm Gulf of Mexico.

"On our northern boundary line in the heart of this continent lies the International Peace Garden; and pledges to its ideals is the loyalty of every North Dakotan.

"North Dakota has a wealth of natural resources.

"Underlying the whole western part of the state are valuable lignite coal beds. Vast beds of Dakota clay, unusually resilient and adaptable for pottery, lie within her boundaries. The ceramics department in the University of North Dakota has transformed this clay into inspirational works of art and beauty.

"North Dakota is not only a state of productive resource, but one of goodly fertility. In the eastern part of the state is found the Red River Valley, 60 miles wide and 300 miles long. In this agricultural region, wheat, corn, flax, barley, oats, sugar beets and many other grains and vegetables grow.

"Our sons are not unknown to fame. Vihljalmer Stefansson and Ben Eielson have blazed the trails of civilization to the far north. Maxwell Anderson studied his art at our state university. Artists such as Paul Fjelde and Levon West have drawn their inspiration from our soil.

"Rich in legend and history, inspiring in natural beauty and backed by sturdy pioneer cities, North Dakota has scores of untold secrets which have not been discovered to this day.

"Happy in possessing such a land, all North Dakotans join with their poet, James. W. Foley, in saying:

"Teddy Roosevelt's West

"He loved her best,

"North Dakota, hail to you!"

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