Column published in Smith County Pioneer – August 27, 2015

HOME ON THE RANGE
By El Dean Holthus

Mark September 3, 2015 as special date on your calendar as a day to visit the Home on the Range Cabin. At 10:30 am on that date Governor Sam Brownback will dedicate THE HOME ON THE RANGE HIGHWAY naming signs to be installed later by employees of the Kansas Department of Transportation. Senator Elaine Bowers, Representative Troy Waymaster along with personnel from KDOT have indicated they plan to attend. The Governor is on a tight schedule that allows about one hour at the Site.

The presence of Governor Brownback, Sen. Bowers and Rep. Waymaster is a continuation of the long standing excellent relationship Home on the Range has had with those who sit in the Governor’s chair and those who are members of the Kansas Legislature. This relationship began in 1947 with the introduction, by Sen. I.E. Nickell, Smith Center, of the bill to adopt “Home on the Range” as the State Song of Kansas. In 1954 Governor Arn came to Home on the Range to dedicate the old/new cabin renovated under the leadership of Melvin Collier and fellow Smith Center Rotarians. In 2012 the Kansas Legislature and Governor Brownback recognized the 140th anniversary of the construction of the Cabin. Governor Brownback was unable to attend the October 2014 re-dedication of the restored Cabin, but Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer represented his office.

We will have only a few chairs so bring lawn chairs, wear a hat, and bring your OFF to counter the mosquitoes. Handicapped parking is available. The Nature Walk remains closed due to the flood in early August. We hope to see as many of you as possible.

I will close this article with a small tribute to Bud Nech, long time Kensington business man and a Veteran of World II who flew bombing missions in Europe in a B-24 Liberator. His plane was shot down and he was held a German prisoner of war for an extended time. All those who fight in combat are courageous but those who flew these missions had a special measure of courage because of the length of their missions there were no fighters to provide air cover; these young men in their slow flying planes were at risk from the shrapnel (flak) from the anti-aircraft guns on the ground and the German fighter planes. They flew tight formations so as to pool the firepower of their on board guns creating a fat target for the AAA gunners; there was a high casualty rate of both bombers and their crews. Tom Brokaw called the service men and women of WW II and their civilian support “The Greatest Generation”; I in my small way say to the family of Bud Nech and all his family, “Thank you for the service of your Dad because if not for his sacrifice and that of his comrades we would today be speaking German or Japanese. May he now rest in well deserved Peace.