America was built by ordinary people

Published 7:53 am Friday, July 4, 2014

By U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar



Today families, friends and neighbors come together to celebrate the birth of our great country — our grand experiment in democracy, the idea that a nation founded on the principles of opportunity, fairness and freedom can long endure and serve as a beacon of hope to people around the world who seek a better life.

As we mark this day with fireworks, parades and picnics, we should also remember the people throughout history — both known and unknown — who ushered America from the bright spark of an idea to an independent nation.

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We sometimes forget that our founders were deeply ordinary people. George Washington was a farmer and surveyor. Benjamin Franklin learned the printing trade as an apprentice.

What made these ordinary men and countless others like them so extraordinary was their dedication; their willingness to put their reputations, their livelihoods — even their very lives — on the line for a cause greater than themselves. It was the mark of a great American then. It’s the mark of a great American today.

I think of State Trooper Brian Beuning, who during last month’s flooding responded to a 911 call from a woman who was driving home to Anoka when her car spun out of control, swept away, water inching up to the windows.

Trooper Beuning pushed through rushing water, got her out of the car and held onto her until help arrived. The car ended up in a field a quarter of a mile away. A Department of Natural Resources boat tried to rescue them, but the current was too swift. Finally, two Luverne firefighters tied themselves to a semi-truck and got them both to safety.

Trooper Beuning would be quick to tell you that he didn’t do anything special — he was just doing his job. But it would have been easy to let someone else take the call. It would have been easy to give in to the rising water. When he was needed, he didn’t run away from danger. He ran right toward it.

Dedication. Decency. Bravery. Resilience. These are the traits that make ordinary people extraordinary. These are the traits that brought our nation into being in 1776, and continue to make our state and nation great to this day.

Whether with friends or family, at a picnic or a parade, I hope that everyone takes a few minutes on this Independence Day to celebrate the extraordinary work of ordinary Americans. Heroes aren’t always mentioned in history books. Sometimes they live right next door.

Have a happy, safe and memorable Independence Day!”