What is Western Kansas

By John DehnMarch 7, 2017

To some, it’s just a place on a map that people go through to get somewhere else. For others, we call it and make

it our home.  I’m from the “big city” of Pueblo, Colorado and I can tell you, Southwest Kansas is A LOT more than just a place to live. In fact, in many ways, the big cities have lost what is so common here in Western Kansas. The people here are hard workers, faithful, trustworthy and when times get tough, form an unbreakable bond that few ever get to experience in this life.  A band of brothers in the military. A 9/11 or Tsunami event. Perhaps winning a national championship with a team who shouldn’t have won.  These unbreakable bonds last a lifetime and they’re alive and thriving in the hearts of Americans in Ashland and other counties in Southwest Kansas.

In Southwest Kansas it’s ordinary town people who pull together to help neighbors, friends, acquaintances or just
trying to help in any way they can.  Today, I had the opportunity to see these friends and family in action.  It was choreographed like a military style formation.  The fire house is filled with lines of volunteers, who put these lunches together, get them to the fighters on their trucks and get these men back out on their trucks fighting fires, in a VERY short period of time.  Thousands of dollars in donated items like peanut butter crackers, Gatorade, water, fruits, chips, sandwiches and the list goes on, have hands working swiftly on them. Bag this, get that, take these. The firefighters are handed their lunch and the moment the truck is filled with water, they’re gone, once again putting their lives on the line. General Patton would have been proud to see the efficiency and effectiveness.

The majority of these folks, are not paid. They’re not reimbursed in anyway.  They’re ordinary people who have
volunteered to, if or when the time comes, they would be willing to lay down their lives to save others.  They all have one common element coursing through their blood.  They are from, in, live, work, play and do Southwest Kansas.  The men on the fire trucks and the women preparing meals, it was an extraordinary machine to witness and be a part of.  They give smiles and hand out bags of food to restore some order in life that has just met chaos.  I tell you something I witnessed today! The people from Ashland and countless people from counties all over Kansas who will be helping and are already helping. I witnessed people that are genuinely proud to be from and in Southwest Kansas.

Thank you to the brave firemen and first responders who are made up of primarily volunteers.  You saved an entire town last night and while we have friends and neighbors who lost everything, I know you’re still working tirelessly to save all you can.  From the bottom of our souls, we want to thank you for standing before a devastating fire and saying, not on my watch, you stop here! In time, those who lost everything will again see that heart of Southwest Kansas come alive as they will be there to help in any and all ways they can. To our firefighters and other volunteers, God Bless. Be Safe and THANK YOU!