Thumbs up to this day of celebrating what binds our country together:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Those few words in the more than 1,300-word Declaration of Independence set the tone for the creation of a country that would be like none other.

In these times of civil unrest, political bitterness and soul searching on whether we as a country are living up to the ideals of those words, this should be a day where we can reflect on the shared values we all hold and savor the wisdom of those who ratified the Declaration and would go on to work to “form a more perfect union.”

Not merely a mural

Thumbs up to Australian artist Guido van Helten for the completion of the jaw-dropping mural on the grain silos along Riverfront Drive.

The two-year project is now finished with the support of the arts community and sponsors such as Ardent Mills. And what a sight it is to behold.

The metamorphosis of the project kept local residents curious about what would unfold by the time they took their next trip past the 135-foot-tall cylinders of concrete.

The mural’s subject matter of children dancing at the Mahkato Wacipi during the annual event’s Education Day is a captivating scene, giving us great hope for the strides made in the community since 38 Dakota were executed here in 1862.

Also fitting is that this scene was completed during a pandemic and a time when social justice demands will not be silenced. Seeing those children of different colors and ethnicities dancing in the sky every day gives us great hope for the future.

COVID-19 reality

Thumbs down to the continuing embrace of ignorance by the Republican Party, particularly in terms of the coronavirus pandemic.

This week the nation was treated to the continued befuddlement of a president who believes the virus will just go away of its own accord and who belatedly endorsed the use of face masks because they make him look like the Lone Ranger. (The Long Ranger wore his mask over his eyes, not his nose and mouth.)

And we were further treated to the spectacle of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — former White House hopeful and supposed medical professional — deriding expertise and demanding more “optimism” from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading expert on infectious disease.

Fauci isn’t there to assure us everything is fine when it isn’t. When he tells us that our current path has the nation headed to 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day, it’s because we are going that way.

Two weeks ago Vice President Mike Pence put his name on a op-ed column that insisted that there would be no second wave of the virus. How wrong that was.

Habitat for Humanity

Thumbs up to Habitat for Humanity South Central Minnesota and St. Peter High School students for their continued work on a St. Peter Habitat home during the pandemic.

The students worked on the house as part of a building trades class project until they could no longer do hands-on projects due to the pandemic. But some students did help with the foundation during distance learning.

The home was moved Wednesday to the Traverse Green Subdivision in St. Peter, where Habitat volunteers will add the finishing touches.

Mohamed Mohamed and his wife Rigyo Hussein will move into the home with their six children. Mohamed said the home “will really make a difference” for his family.

Habitat for Humanity has a long history in the Mankato and St. Peter area of providing 140 homes for 600 individuals since 1990.

These kind of projects are important to highlight in these times of COVID-19 showing even the pandemic cannot stop good will and good work.

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