Dear Sons,

Family has always been very important to me and while I may not express it enough sometimes, it’s what drives me every day to get up in the morning.

When I was young – only nineteen years old, I decided to move away from my family living in the Midwest at the time and move down to Florida. The move took me nearly 1600 miles from what had been ‘home’ for eighteen years of my life.

The move was part of what made me who I am and it’s natural for young adults to want to spread their wings and leave the nest at a certain point in their lives. Broadening your horizons and seeing other parts of the country and world can be invaluable experiences. But something will always bring me back to the Midwest, both literally and in my heart.

You can often tell a Midwesterner from must hearing them speak, but the spirit goes much deeper. Phrases like “you betcha”, “dontcha know” and “would you like a glass of pop” are often dead giveaways. Yet, it’s more than just an accent or a catch phrase that sets them apart in my life, though. They’re who I grew up around; they’re all I knew until I moved away. They’re some of the nicest, most caring and most hospitable people I’ve ever known. They care about their neighbors and the community and they’re always there for each other when someone is in need.

It’s a slower life to be lived in the Midwest. There’s less hustle and bustle and the definition of a long commute for many rural Midwesterners is anything over about five minutes. People know each other’s names (and often their business as well), they say hello to each other in passing and ask how they and their family are doing and actually hear the answers. They’ll wave to you, a perfect stranger in a passing car just the same way they wave to their neighbors, because that’s just what they do. Be sure to wave back.

While you may not be a Midwestern boy like your father, you both come from Midwestern roots – Iowa and Ohio. While you may be tempted by the draw of far-off lands and new and exciting experiences, I encourage you to follow those callings but never forget where you came from.

The heartland of America.

Love,

Dad

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