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Fourth of July Reflections in Here, Kansas

The Kansas state flag and the gay pride flag, hanging from the porch of William Jennings Bryan Oleander's home in Here, Kansas. (Photo by WJB Oleander)

It was a mostly quiet Independence Day this year in the sleepy town of Here, Kansas. For Commentator William Jennings Bryan Oleander, this year's 4th of July celebration was less about flashy fireworks and more about reflection.

Commentator William Jennings Bryan Oleander is also known as Tom Averill, author and professor emeritus at Washburn University in Topeka.


Folks, Iola Humboldt and I flew flags on the 4th of July. The good old Kansas flag, of course, in honor of our pride in the Legislature, which this year had the gumption to do the will of the people and not the will of Governor Sam Brownback. That man has not made me proud, insisting, as he has, and still does, on the wisdom of his failed tax cuts, his bankrupt Red-State Experiment. He promised us economic prosperity, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the rainbow, with its pot of gold, never materialized. It was the promise of a smiling leprechaun and the people of Kansas, and their duly elected representatives, knew it, and they acted. Now, rather than robbing retirement funds and highway monies of gold, the pot of gold is coming into the state treasury from the pocket books of wise taxpayers, willing to do their share for education and infrastructure. Makes me proud.

Of course, Iola and I also flew a Pride Flag, right next to the Kansas flag. If you wonder about the Pride Flag, we'll tell you that if you scratch any Kansas family, or any family anywhere, you'll find family members and friends of family members who will be glad you are not only supportive, but proud of them.
We hung our flags from the porch - not on poles, but vertically, side by side. And the afternoon sun shone brightly through the both of them. And the colorful rainbow flag revealed something I'd never noticed before: the Kansas Flag is nearly a rainbow flag, too. Hanging vertically, in glowing sunlight, our state flag shows a stripe of blue sky, yellow and orange stripes for our Kansas horizon of beautiful sunsets, a purple stripe of hills, a blue stripe of river, and the green stripe of the Kansas land. We are an earthy rainbow, as we've added another stripe of brown for our plowed soil. The Pride Flag, with its rainbow colors, has red, and the Kansas flag doesn’t, but I’ve been seeing red in state politics too long to miss it in our flag.

Folks, before now, I always thought there was Kansas, and there was "Over the Rainbow." Turns out Kansas is the rainbow. We can see it in our flag. It's not a Pride Flag, but it is a proud flag. And now there's a pot of gold, called revenue, that comes with the rainbow. That's enough to make me doubly-proud.


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