A Proud Week For South Dakota
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
This past week has shown us, yet again, why we can be proud to be South Dakotans.
On Friday, May 8, our state welcomed President Barack Obama to Watertown. Linda and I were honored to greet the President at the airport and to join his motorcade as he rode to the Civic Arena. Thousands of people lined the entire four-mile route – waving, cheering and holding American flags. Members of the national media who travel with the President commented on the impressive display.
It was all the more impressive because, based on election returns, many of those who turned out probably don’t support President Obama politically. But this was not a day for politics – it was a day for patriotism. We welcomed our nation’s President to South Dakota, and I was proud of the reception and the respect Watertown showed.
President Obama delivered the commencement address at Lake Area Technical Institute and recognized LATI as one of the nation’s best two-year institutions. His speech focused on several of the graduates who had faced adversity and had come to LATI to seek a better life. The President recognized the values of hard work and self-reliance that make South Dakota a great state. All across South Dakota on that same weekend, thousands of hard-working students celebrated a successful college graduation, in a similar way.
On Sunday morning, I was back in Pierre. Our family was enjoying a Mother’s Day brunch after church. In Delmont, families were doing much the same – spending time with friends and family. Then, out of nowhere, a tornado came from the south and tore through the west side of town.
I arrived in Delmont mid-afternoon. The devastation and destruction were even worse than had been reported. Dozens of homes were damaged, along with the city’s brand-new fire hall and the beautiful Zion Lutheran Church. I was saddened by the great loss of property, but grateful that no one was killed or critically injured.
And, once again, I was inspired by the people of South Dakota. Delmont’s citizens joined together to help their neighbors. Local officials set aside their personal losses to coordinate the city’s response. With the Delmont fire hall destroyed, firemen from Armour and Tripp came to Delmont’s aid. Power linesmen were immediately on the scene, working to restore power. The people of Delmont began to clean up their city and comfort those who suffered losses.
Yet again, the worst of Mother Nature brought out the best in South Dakota. Just as we’ve seen again and again – during the Missouri and Big Sioux River floods, Winter Storm Atlas, and the Wessington Springs tornado – South Dakotans stepped up to help their neighbors.
In South Dakota, we love our country. We work hard to advance ourselves. And we step up to help our neighbors when disaster strikes. That’s why this week made me proud, still again, to be a South Dakotan.