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You have heard from many who are wiser than I am about the meaning of Independence Day, but I think it is important to take time to thank and remember our forefathers, service men and women, and all who have made this day possible. They have all sacrificed more than we can ever repay. We have an obligation carry forward the Independence Day traditions as well as the principles of freedom upon which this nation was founded.

We have a government that is by the people and for the people; everyone is included. We cannot all be soldiers, presidents or senators, but we can show kindness and respect for our neighbors and strive to be involved in our local governments, our civic organizations and our religious organizations. While these actions do not normally receive the same level of recognition or gratitude as that of the president or senator, they are still of equal importance. A democracy without the involvement of the people will not survive.

Throughout our lives and our involvement in our communities, we must remember and practice the three basic disciplines upon which our forefathers founded this great nation: strong religion, strong family values and strong work ethic. These traits were as essential to our democracy at its beginning as they are today. While practicing these disciplines, there is no limit to what we can accomplish as a society.

We must further remember that the Constitution was drafted to limit the authority of government and our reliance upon it. However, today it seems few are concerned about what they can do for their communities, neighbors or country, but rather it seems the majority is concerned about what the government can do for them. As citizens, I believe we should first strive to better our communities rather than expecting the government to fix our problems.

The government will never be able to accomplish what the people can accomplish through civic engagement and community involvement. This is why I have been fulfilling what I believe to be my obligation as a citizen by going to various community groups, dedications and activities so that I remain involved in and informed about the issues and events in our community.

Recently, courtesy of Ameren Missouri, I had the pleasure of touring the Bagnell Dam. Ameren did not ask for anything. They made themselves available to us so we could understand the complexity of this incredible source of electricity and how so many things come together to bring the community a reasonably priced product. Even with various environmental regulations substantially raising the cost of operating the dam, Ameren has adapted and kept this a state of the art facility.

We also discussed the coordination between Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. If we did not have the Truman Dam, we would have seen even worse floods this year, probably comparable to 1942, which was even before my time. The floodwater would have come at a velocity of up to 200,000 cubic feet per second, which would have resulted in even more damage to the community than we can possibly imagine.

Construction of the Bagnell Dam took less than when it was finished in 1931. I wonder how difficult such a project would be today. One would have to rally public support for the project, meet the requirements of the plethora of environmental regulations, and still find the mass amount of workers required to do such a massive project in such a short time. This task would be made even more difficult today given the level of government regulation and oversight we have. I hear the pay was great though — $0.35 an hour and an additional $0.35 if you brought your mule.

Again, thank you for your support. As always, if I can do anything for you or you have wisdom you would like to share, feel free to contact me. I always appreciate hearing from any and all members of the community. Happy Independence Day!

State Rep. Rudy Veit, R-Jefferson City, represents the 59th District, and shares his perspective on statehouse issues twice a month.

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