Sen. Heidi Heitkamp: Celebrating a North Dakota 4th of July
MANDAN, N.D. -- Independence Day brings back some of my favorite childhood memories, and that's the case for so many folks across North Dakota. For some, the yearly tradition was a parade down Main Street or a rodeo that brought friends and loved...
MANDAN, N.D. - Independence Day brings back some of my favorite childhood memories, and that's the case for so many folks across North Dakota.
For some, the yearly tradition was a parade down Main Street or a rodeo that brought friends and loved ones together from across the state. Others grew up celebrating with a boat parade at the lake or at a backyard barbeque with neighbors, gathering around a fire to make s'mores.
When I was growing up in Mantador, the Fourth of July always meant I'd pile into the car with my parents, brothers and sisters, and head to Wahpeton for a celebration with our grandparents in Chahinkapa Park.
After swimming ourselves tired, we'd sit down for a picnic. Even now, one of my strongest memories from those days is the watermelon we'd eat every Fourth of July - the first of the season.
Those traditions continue to this day for each of our families, and that's why all of us are blessed to call North Dakota home. On special days like the Fourth of July, we come together to celebrate our country, our freedom and the strength of our communities.
We also take a moment to thank those who put on the uniform to protect everything that makes our communities special - the folks who have fought to keep our country safe for more than 200 years, and who continue to fight for us today. Their service and sacrifice are the reason we can celebrate year after year.
On the Fourth of July, we also celebrate the fact that what unites us as a country is a whole lot stronger than anything that could divide us. Politics, ideology and partisan bickering feel a world away at the Main Street parade, at the rodeo or at the lake.
With so many tough issues facing Congress, it's been a contentious few weeks. I've always worked with all sides to get the job done and produce results for North Dakota - and that's how I'm working now. Unfortunately, not everyone in Congress feels the same way.
But what's given me hope as I fight for North Dakotans in the U.S. Senate is that, even in an environment where partisanship kills too many good ideas, there are places where folks work together to get the job done.
This week, I worked with North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer to push the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand emergency grazing and haying on conservation reserve program lands in drought-stricken counties. And USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue agreed to our bipartisan request - giving at least some relief to North Dakota ranchers whose herds have been threatened by drought.
Our success when ranchers needed it most shows what folks can accomplish when we find a common goal and get to work. More work in Congress should be done that way - and that starts with leadership that aims to solve problems, not score political points.
Whether it's guaranteeing North Dakotans quality, affordable health care or protecting ranchers, our goal should be to strengthen our communities and families. But getting results and achieving success takes common sense, which I've tried to bring to the U.S. Senate.
It requires us to build compromise from the middle and come to the negotiating table ready to listen to good ideas - no matter which person or party those ideas come from.
Folks across North Dakota know we accomplish more working together. The unity across our state on days like the Fourth serves as a reminder of our country's greatest strength - the strength that can only be found when folks come together and work side by side, committed to getting results.
And some Fourth of July watermelon doesn't hurt to help grease the wheels.
Heitkamp, a Democrat, represents North Dakota in the U.S. Senate.