I grew up in a small farm town where we feared God, respected our elders, supported our troops and appreciated Mother Nature. There may have been a whole 500 people living in the town and I graduated with a whopping 32 kids in my class. Growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out of the small town, but now that I have moved, every time I go back, I appreciate it more and find myself missing that way of life.
Growing up on the family farm, I learned the value of a hard day’s work. Getting up before dawn to head to the farm for a day of clearing out barns and grain bins was no easy task, but it was time well spent with my grandfather while I learned what a hard day’s work was. You get out what you put into your work, only plant half a field, only get half a crop. As a teenager, if I wanted money for anything, I knew it was only going to come from climbing on a tractor, grabbing a shovel or driving a truck somewhere. I’m so glad now that that is the way I was raised – to work hard for what I had – because at the end of the day, I earned it and I was proud of it. I think this is something the new generation will lack, putting in the work to get the reward. Most feel entitled to immediate payoff with little effort put in on their part.
I learned the value of knowing how to do for myself and appreciating the land. Looking back, I cherish those evenings, looking across the deep green field, watching the dark storm clouds roll in while my grandmother and I prepared supper, listening to my grandfather tell me stories of his day. Every meal in the summer was prepared with at least one item from the gardens. I wonder if the new generation will ever know that feeling? The feeling of putting in the sweat and hard work to support your needs. The feeling of excitement when your hard work finally pays off and you see the fruits of your labor. I learned to use the land in my favor to provide for myself and that is a lesson I will never take for granted.
The value of patience was a lesson that took me a little longer to master than others. Fishing has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and I learned that it definitely takes a lot of patience to sit by the water and wait on a bite from a fish, especially snagging the big bass that has teased you over the years. But what a feeling when all the waiting pays off and you reel in that 8-pound bass! I also learned to enjoy the small moments. Sitting in a boat with my grandfather, listening to the water and just enjoying the outdoors are moments that will remain in my soul. Everything today is made to be immediate. With all of the technology available, nobody needs to wait on anything these days, convenient, yes, but isn’t this taking away from our patience? What is the new generation going to do when they have to wait more than one day for a package to be delivered? Will they know what it’s like when the older generations complain about standing in long lines at the grocery stores, waiting for something to come in the mail or waiting and taking the time to put in and watch hard work pay off?
I also learned to respect and support this great nation and those who defend it. Everyone had a flag in their yard or on their house and you better believe everyone stood for the anthem. Local church organizations made special items to send over to the troops and I was taught to always thank a service member. My family always remembered those who have fallen and said a prayer for those still serving. Those values stuck with me as I grew older and I still practice them today. It saddens me that young people are not being taught these same values, much less the history of their nation.
I was taught early on how to handle and shoot a firearm, as well as respect the responsibility that goes along with it. Target practice with my family is another one of my hobbies I have held for a long time. I learned to defend myself and because of that, I do not have a fear and I sleep well at night. Learning to shoot a gun also led into learning to hunt, which taught me to respect my weapon as well as the wildlife. There is such a fear of guns these days and I wonder if that is because many young people have not been properly taught to use a weapon or to respect it. If you have knowledge and respect for something, there is no need to fear it. That’s the problem with the young generation, they fear the weapons, not the people using them.
Growing up, I remember how I couldn’t wait to get out of the small town, but now, I appreciate every day that I get to go back and visit there. I appreciate the lessons I learned, the values I was taught and my time in the country. Not everyone is from a small town, or has the chance to spend time in one, but we can all still practice the values and lessons that towns like this help provide. It is especially important that the young generation learn these to help keep this country on track.
Brittany Judd is a millennial from St. Louis. She’s a sales coordinator for an electrical distribution company and a proud Whiskey Patriot. She supports our troops with care packages going overseas each week and started a foundation called “Legacy of Love” in honor of her grandpa, who passed away of cancer.