Tracker Pixel for Entry

Wisdom from a forgotten flagpole

Editorial | September 12th, 2018


Photo by Sabrina Hornung

I had a little bit of gravel-road therapy this weekend, found myself cruising rural Burleigh County and made a pit stop at Lake Mitchell. I contemplated dipping my toes in the water but like a good central Dakotan I just walked along the lake’s edge and around the nearby picnic shelters.

The one thing that caught my eye was a lone forgotten flagpole. The base was a concrete square and each side was embellished with a metal plaque. Each plaque had a different message written in uneven but neat hand-welded letters reading"freedom of worship," "freedom of speech," "the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and “freedom of the press.”

A year ago I probably would have just appreciated the monument for its folk-art quality.

I was at a cemetery earlier that day and the various sections were marked in a similar manner. I dug around a bit and found out that the same person was responsible for those sites.Unfortunately I couldn’t find out much else. The area’s folk history reflects the people of the area and their shared values. It warmed my heart to see that whoever created this piece valued freedom of the press and free speech so much that they preserved them in iron. Especially in a world where the media is treated like a create-your-own adventure series.

The one plaque that surprised and resonated within me was the plaque that read “freedom of the press.” The fact that the fabricator appreciated that freedom so much that it was written in iron and outlasted its creator, really struck a chord.

I had a conversation with a veteran of Operation Desert Storm in rural Barnes county the other day. Once I told him I worked in the newspaper business, he immediately disclosed his distrust and dislike of the media, but his bias came from his experience overseas. Along with his mission and trying to protect himself, it was his responsibility to protect war correspondents whenever they did a ride-along. He felt he risked his life for them but didn’t feel like they accurately depicted the horrors of war -- that the story of the soldier was lost despite the sacrifices they made.

I told him I couldn’t speak on behalf of these large media outlets. I work for a small operation and our intent is to reflect the voice of the people and inform and educate the public, but the more we talked the more I realized that that IS the mission of the media, no matter how big or how small.

By the end of our conversation he smiled and patted me on the back and said that he would gladly have protected me; and that spoke volumes. On an unrelated note, we also made a pact to keep smiling because it’s disarming.

Our words are powerful. They have the power to build, shape and destroy opinions and perspectives. When I first started at the HPR, now close to three years ago, the best advice came from John Strand.

Sometimes I affectionately refer to John as the Atticus Finch of Fargo. He has a gentle way of putting things into perspective. He told me that our ink must never be used maliciously. We report the truth and always have our “news hats” on hand.

The freedom of the press is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, as well as freedom of speech and freedom of worship.

Can you imagine if the whole country took our first amendment rights as seriously as NRA members take their second amendment rights?

Our job as the press is to serve as a watchdog and to call out injustices when we see them. It is the people’s right to know. Why else would the current administration find media presence so threatening and try to discredit us? We deserve to know the truth, in fact we don’t just deserve it. It is our right as Americans.

Recently in:

Growing Together Opens New GardenBy Annie Prafckehttps://www.facebook.com/annie.prafcke20 May 2021On April 15th, Growing Together held a groundbreaking for the opening of its newest gardens at Gethsemane Cathedral. The space, which…

By Michael M. Millermichael.miller@ndsu.edu17 June 2021The Lehr Tabernacle near Lehr, N.D., celebrates its 100th Centennial with events on June 18-20, 2021. The Tabernacle, also known as Prairie Bible Camp, was featured in an…

2021 Summer Calendar Toby KeithMay 21, 7pmBismarck Event Center, 315 SOUTH 5TH STREET BISMARCKTickets $25-$175, pre-party starts at 5pm.Heart and Soul May 22, 9pmThe Aquarium, 226 N BroadwayR & B, Smooth Jazz, Funk, Neo-Soul and…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021Our opinion: Let’s work together instead of against each other.Think of where we are now in comparison to last year. Think of what we’ve learned since and how this is affecting our…

Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.com29 July 2021This Is About the Religious-Rich-QAnon-White Supremacist-Trumplican CultThere are hundreds of thousands of cults in countries and societies around the world that have played or are playing…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021With Grand Forks being a hop skip and a cruise away from Fargo-Moorhead, our neighbors to the north have some great dining options. Whether you’re planning on spending a weekend or…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021“We have a guy that's been involved with the show for many years as a landlord and knew what it was like in the heydays. So he knows where he wants to take it.” says WE Fest General…

Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.com29 July 2021Conor Holt works in television post-production in Los Angeles and has scoured almost every video store and thrift shop in Los Angeles County on an endless quest for VHS cassettes. This…

Alicia Underlee Nelson  alicia@hpr1.comDowntown scored a new mural from The Greetings Tour, a project that aims to create a mural in the style of…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Theresa L. Goodrichsubmit@hpr1.comIt was day ten of our epic southwest road trip and we’d made it to Arizona. After camping in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico, we were exhausted, but fortunately our night in…

by Annie Prafckesubmit@hpr1.com17 June 2021On June 19th, from 12pm to 7pm, nonprofit Faith4Hope Scholarship Fund is hosting their first ever Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Lindenwood Park in Fargo. It is free and open to the…