Dear Mr. Keillor:

As a resident of Nebraska, and up to a year ago, a resident of Broken Bow, I would like to thank you for putting our town on the map. However, there are a few things I’d like to clear up from your article.

First, Broken Bow is already great, and Trump doesn’t have any influence on that. In fact, Nebraska is great, and it extends a lot farther west than Omaha, or even Lincoln, which (FYI) is where the Cornhuskers play.

According to the report card in Education Week, Nebraska schools rank in the top 20 nationally. So, thanks, but Mr. Trump has no need to put marble floors and walls in our schools. He’s welcome to make donations and support the schools, just like every other community member. However, the teachers do an awesome job with our kids.

We also don’t need a marble statue of General Custer. We know our history but do not need to be defined by it. So, if by your comment you are referring to the county being named after a man who has negative ties to our history’s treatment of Native Americans, and was, himself, slaughtered due to his recklessness…well, sorry, we aren’t that way.

Golf is a good leisure activity, but I’d like to correct your timeline. The golf “season” begins earlier than May and can end later than September. Plus, in recent years due to drought and warmer temperatures, it wasn’t uncommon to see people out there in December. There are lots of other things we do in Nebraska, like sporting events, plays, concerts, festivals, Christmas lightings, parades, etc. Sure, we even have our “hick” pastimes, like horseback riding, 4-wheelers, demolition derbies, and ethnic festivals.

In Nebraska, we have many denominations which a person can choose to attend. True, the one you want may be over 70 miles away, but you’re still free to attend. Yes, there are Bible studies  and church youth groups. There are social events and fundraisers.

You are correct about there being wonderful, warm-hearted people in Nebraska. Many people would give the shirt off their back to help a friend or neighbor. I’ve seen farmers come together to harvest crops that another family couldn’t due to their situation. I’ve seen people pull over to help stranded motorists. I’ve had people pay for my family’s lunch because my husband was in uniform. I’ve had strangers help me carry and load things into my car because my children were being rambunctious. I’ve had an African American man pay for my groceries at the store just because he “felt like it.” I even knew where he lived, so I returned the favor with homemade goodies. I’ve seen the residents of Custer County pull together to earn thousands of dollars for school upgrades, community events, medical fundraisers, hospital upgrades, and scholarships. Many teens leave town for “bigger and better” educations and opportunities, only  to return because they value the way they were raised and want the same for their children.

Yes, homes in Nebraska are cheaper than other places. I can buy a home, and my monthly payments will be the same or lower than many people’s rent in larger cities. Jobs are available in many small towns, or within driving distance. Nebraska has an unemployment rate of 2.5%. That’s HALF the national average.

People watch out for each other in Nebraska. Yes, we have open and concealed carries. We have hunters with their rifles. We also have and teach respect for weapons and the land. While I’m certain our ladies would take a stand and protect themselves, no one is going to “cut him a new buttonhole” because we know how to handle ourselves.

We do our best to use the land to feed families but to preserve it for the future. We have amazing landscapes. It’s not flat, like many would lead you to believe. We have fields of corn and soybeans and grain. We have rolling Sandhills and canyons. We have the largest hand-planted forest in the world, which also happens to be a national park. We have bluffs – landmarks that are mentioned in countless diaries of pioneers as they traveled west. And we have amazing sunsets/sunrises.

Yes, there is beef. Especially in Custer County. In fact, one of the world’s largest cattle operations calls it home. That company feeds a lot of people. And our corn-fed beef is great. I was a waitress in college and had several “coasters” comment on the amazing taste and texture of our beef as compared to what they can buy on the coast. Sure, our seafood is frozen and shipped to us, but it is still available. As are chicken, turkey, vegetarian, and vegan options.

I’ve been to the cities, from California to Washington, D.C., and all I can say is “You can have it.” I liked my 2-minute walking commute to work. Now I drive 10 miles to get there, and guess what – I can do it in about 10 minutes. I don’t have the stress from the concrete and lack of nature (psychological studies support this concept). A traffic jam here consists of 10 cars backed up behind a tractor during harvest. I can’t imagine spending two hours of my life sitting in my car, trying to go fifteen miles home to my family after a long day at work. I don’t care to imagine a school where my child is “just another” and every teacher doesn’t know him/her by name.

Sure, there are negatives to living in Nebraska, especially way out west, but they are far exceeded by the positives. If Trump were to move to Broken Bow, I can assure you he’d be welcomed, just as every new resident is welcomed.

However, I’ll let you go back to your stereotypes and generalizations. After all, Nebraska IS a great state and a great place to live, and we’ll keep that little secret to ourselves.

A Nebraska Resident (formerly of Broken Bow)

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.