Wow! What a month it has been so far for Wisconsinites! The snow is mostly gone, the trees are already budding, and the Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball team really put on a show, both on and off the court at the NCAA Final Four and Championship games! And while we may lament that spring break is over, our recent travels over spring break and the hoopla surrounding the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball team and head coach Bo Ryan really put a new spin the idea of “home.”
My family and I enjoyed a wonderful trip away from the routine by visiting my sister’s busy family in Texas. They have not been in Texas for even two years, but everyone in their family seems well adjusted to their new home in a Dallas suburb. Interestingly, my brother-in-law asked, “Why don’t you guys move down here? The weather’s great (don’t ask about summer), jobs are plentiful, and the area is growing at an exponential pace.”
This question was rather interesting, but my response I think surprised myself. Why would we move? Everything our family has and needs is right here. The support and proximity of family and friends, safe neighborhoods to raise a family, reasonable cost of living, and the friendliness and helpful spirit of the Fox Valley and really all of Wisconsin. I like where I live, a big plot of green grass, landscaping, fruit trees, and garden, complete with a corn field just beyond our backyard. A far cry from the cement sidewalks, semi-arid fields, and urban sprawl of Texas. What else would we need? My brother-in-law just shook his head in disbelief.
The next day my brother-in-law came home from work, sat down in front of the Wisconsin Badgers basketball game early in the NCAA tournament, and said, “I just don’t get it. I don’t get why people from Wisconsin are so proud to be from Wisconsin. At work today - down here in Dallas, Texas, I met several avid Badger fans, proudly wearing their cardinal red with spirited comments in support for the team. I mean, we live in Dallas! Why are they still so proud to be from Wisconsin when they don’t even live there anymore?”
I’m wasn’t quite sure what to say about that. I may have made an off-hand comment about how my brother-in-law wouldn’t understand, since he’s from Chicago (couldn't pass up that opportunity!). But there is just something about our state - the strong Midwestern values, the willingness to give your neighbor in need the shirt off your back, the underdog (Wisconsin), the storied history (Packers), the loveable (Uecker calling a Brewers game), and the toughness (we embrace, or at least survive the annual cold, hard winter) that brings us together. Perhaps Wisconsin pride started long ago when our forefathers carefully crafted the height of the state capitol dome so it measured 16 feet and two inches TALLER than the US Capitol in Washington DC. Or maybe this pride stems from the old stories of our own ancestors settling right here in Wisconsin, seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity, creating homes and communities built on faith and freedom passed down through the generations. Farmers working the land with the sweat of their brow, all to feed their families and make an honest living.
Well, whatever it is that makes this place so special, I’m proud to be from Wisconsin. It’s a comfortable place with warm, hard-working people, and it’s home. We strongly support our sports teams, our humble history, and each other. There’s just no other place I'd rather be.
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