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From the Editor

Read commentary from Progressive Cattle editors, ranging from the origin of specific magazine articles to thoughts about industry trends.

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My great-great-grandfather fought for the Confederacy.

I realize that’s not a popular thing to confess. It’s easy to throw our past into the dustbin of history if it clashes with modern taste and propriety.

But for Durham Hall Smith there’s a legacy reaffirming what unites our country rather than what divided it.

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0313pc cooper 1Listening to Linda Davis talk to a room full of cattle producers at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Cattlemen’s College, you easily get the impression there’s no crisis that cannot be conquered.

Whether it be drought, high prices, sick cattle, political opposition, the Depression, world war or the heavy loss of loved ones, Davis has seen most of it in her 83 years on the New Mexico range. Now her wisdom is as telling as ever.

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Watching Congress and the White House fumble economic policy, Americans probably think they have the moral high ground to say, “we deserve better.”

Fact is, no, you don’t. What’s happening in Washington is something we all helped create. Until we change ourselves, we deserve every bit of it.

We invited this pox upon our house through years of overspending, by waging wars without revenue to support them, by growing addicted to convenient debt, by electing craven ambitious leaders who don’t care to lead and by ignoring industries that define our core.

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This past year, my colleagues and I at Progressive Publishing have been reading some of the history behind the explorer Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian who led the first modern exploration team to reach the South Pole.

At the age of 39, Amundsen took a five-man company 1,400 miles in a period of four months across the frigid Antarctic landscape, literally not knowing which hazards and dangers lay before them.

Preparations for the journey took years and painstaking detail. Amundsen had to envision any possible challenge that would come in a polar geography where temperatures routinely hit 20 degrees below zero.

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It was Christmas of 1914, just months after the chain of events that plunged Europe into the bloody conflict of World War I.

A confrontation some leaders had predicted would be a quick and decisive contest between nation-states had evolved into a prolonged war defined by ruthless weaponry and trench warfare.

Historian Stanley Weintraub said the carnage of this war was best embodied in the trenches that scarred the landscape, filled with “lice, rats, barbed wire, fleas, shells, bombs, underground caves, corpses, blood, liquor, mice, cats, artillery, filth, bullets, mortars, fire, steel: That’s what war is. It is the work of the devil.”

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There’s a great story told about Alan Shepard just before his historic Freedom 7 spaceflight in 1961, making him the first American in space with a 15-minute suborbital flight.

After his successful return to Earth, reporters asked Shepard what he was thinking about while sitting in the Redstone rocket and waiting for the final countdown.

“The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder,” he said.

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