Paula Kirkpatrick

Paula Kirkpatrick

This past summer, my husband and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary with a trip to several national parks.

Our first stop was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. The heat of the sun shimmered over the brown cliffs, green valleys and peaceful, calm waters. A large herd of adult buffalo breathed heavily in the hot, humid air, while their calves skipped around them, seemingly unbothered by the heat. In this setting, you could start to envision the land our 26th president had grown to treasure, and why it was preserved as a national park and memorialized with his name.

That night, his life in North Dakota in the early 1900s was brought to life in the Medora Musical we attended, an outdoor extravaganza about life in the Old West, along with Teddy and the Rough Riders. This musical developed into a national attraction of the Badlands through the efforts of Harold Schafer, a humble entrepreneur who believed in the story of Medora and its history and worked tirelessly to share its story with the world.

The next day we journeyed across the wide expanse of Montana, awed by the endless green and golden hills, topped by the state’s famous “big sky.” After several hours, a town sign greeted us with the name of Havre.

“I have a church here!” I declared, referring to my work as a sales representative for a church webinar event company, and the church staff I telephone and converse with across our country, Canada, and beyond. The town name on my computer screen at home suddenly came to life before my eyes, and I began to “see” the people living there and the vision a small church might have for its ministry and community. Each succeeding town I recognized on our vacation trip was always a moment of discovery and excitement for me … somehow, strangely, an affirmation of my work.

So can you imagine the excitement of the Hutchinson Brothers when on Nov. 19, 1855, their long desired dream for a town lay before them, the beautiful Hassan Valley. Sloping banks adjoined the sparkling Crow River, colorful fall leaves rustled on the abundant trees. “Eureka! We have found it” someone cried. And indeed they had! It was a land worthy to bear their name and the ideals they espoused, a land they would develop into a town called Hutchinson.

What’s in a name? Evidently quite a lot, according to Asa, John and Judson. Their name, their town would embrace the causes they “sang” across America and Europe, particularly equality for every human being.

Consider Theodore Roosevelt National Park, named for our Rough Rider president, honoring his love of the rich beauty of the Badlands, and his legacy of preservation of our natural resources through the national park system and U.S. Forest Service. Or Harold Schafer, whose devotion to the story of Medora and the Wild West compelled him to give tirelessly of his time and finances so that story would not die, but be continued for future generations.

Now consider my town, your town — Hutchinson. Dreams are being realized, dreams are being fulfilled, through the hard work of diverse citizens throughout our storied city. A “trail” was blazed and upgraded so more people could bike, walk and run in comfort and enjoy the beauty of our area. Amazing records have been achieved by sports teams because they believed they could. Products are being developed, new companies are being birthed, because people have a vision they refuse to give up on. Hutchinson is active, vibrant, pulsing through the dreams of its townspeople.

What’s in a name? The Hutchinson Brothers wanted their name to represent freedom, equal rights, and opportunity for all. “They began to dream of founding an anti-slavery town ... a town which should bear their name.” As you can see, the town of Hutchinson was founded on a dream, and continues to flourish as the dreams of its citizens become realities.

What’s your dream for Hutchinson? There’s always room for another dream.

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