The following is written by Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow:
In a week that includes both elections and Veteran’s Day, it’s an appropriate time to be reminded of the freedoms we have in America. I got extra perspective of that last week. On Friday, I had the honor of meeting and welcoming Mayor Janis Bulis and Lauris Karlsons to Sumner. They were visiting from Mersrags, Latvia.
Mayor Bulis spoke about many things that sounded very familiar: the challenges of being a smaller city in the shadow of a large, urban area; supporting jobs; building a family-friendly community; responding to the unfunded mandates handed down by the Federal government, in their case the European Union.
But talking further, there were many differences, and I realized that I really had no idea what they face. They gained their independence from the Soviet Union only in 1991. Since then, they’re dealing with the after-effects of communism: things like environmental atrocities of oil being run right down creek beds, or significant alcoholism among its citizens and the corresponding challenge of domestic violence. As if all this wasn’t challenging enough, Russia would clearly like to have the country back, routinely conducting illegal flyovers, entering their waters with warships, and so on.
I realized that I was meeting with a man who had to start his own city’s municipal police force, build a jail, and stand in front of motorcyclists involved in drug dealing racing down their streets. My challenges as mayor suddenly seemed small in comparison. We may live with some uncertainty at times in America, but we also don’t know what it’s like to raise a family and live an “ordinary” life while our neighboring country lines tanks up along our border. We don’t know what it’s like to try to build a democracy from scratch out of the rubble of communism. We are truly blessed in America. A big part of those blessings comes from our veterans who continually defend America and so many other burgeoning democracies around the globe. This Friday, please take a moment to thank our veterans for their service.