Honoring the Hands That Feed Us

Town and Country

Farmers have contributed throughout history in more ways than one.

Published on: April 19, 2013

I've driven by the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas, numerous times while driving on I-70, but until today – the first day it opened for the visitor season, I hadn't actually visited it. The Hall of Fame surrounded by a suburb of Kansas City, honors individuals throughout history who have made a significant impact on U.S. agriculture, and raising consumer awareness on the importance and influence of agriculture.

The message is simple: "If you eat, you are involved in agriculture." The Hall of Fame is the only memorial to America's food producers. It honors figures like Norman Borlaug, Henry A. Wallace, Arthur Capper, George Washington Carver, John Deere, Cyrus Hall McCormick, and most recently, Willie Nelson.

The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas is the only memorial to U.S. food producers.
The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas is the only memorial to U.S. food producers.

I'll admit I am a bit of a nerd for history, so the historic village, museum and its numerous pieces of machinery are what stood out to me. While browsing this part of the museum I had the chance to speak with one of the museum employees, who told me about the importance of farm boys in World War II. General Patton's troops were often able to repair machinery quickly, helping push forward while the Axis powers were moving more slowly.

Some historians credit this to the number of farm boys who, having survived through the difficult years of the Great Depression and being self-reliant in nature, contributed significantly to repairing equipment quick enough to give the U.S. Army an advantage.

This hit home for me. My grandad, Howard Harris – an Iowa farm boy originally from Minnesota – was one of these mechanically-inclined soldiers. While in Europe, he repaired equipment under fire and saved lives, and was eventually honored with the Bronze Star before he passed away two years ago. Until now, I hadn't heard how significant this contribution was. With the self-reliant nature of farmers that continues today, this makes a lot of sense.