― Willa Cather, O Pioneers!
As I was leaving the Pinnacle Bank Arena and the State Volleyball Tournament last Friday night, I came across part of the quote above from the famous Nebraskan Author Willa Cather, which was artistically displayed in the large foyer. Being a Nebraskan my whole life, I shamefully admit I had never heard this quote from arguably the greatest author to ever call Nebraska home. As my wife and I drove away, something struck a cord with me and the quote has lingered in my head ever since. Where do we truly call home?
I am not a Milford native. I did not grow up here or even in the area. I have no family here (except my own) and prior to 2002 I had no connection to this place. The only thing I knew about Milford, prior to that time, was that in the mid 90's they had a really good football team. Fortunately for me, I hit the jackpot when I landed my first job.
Back in 2002, I didn't know that the future would hold for me and my young family. I was newly married and our daughter Calyn was a month old when we moved into a small apartment on Fairway Drive. At the time, Milford was just a place to live for at least a year. I figured I would give this teaching thing a try and if something better came along I would be willing to entertain the thought of moving on. Also, my wife was student teaching that fall and we didn't know what opportunities might present themselves to us. But sometime during those first years something special happened, we fell in love with this place.
Milford has become home. It is where we have chosen to go to church, buy a house, and ultimately raise a family. I believe in what this school and community offers for us. Milford is a community that rallies around its school and offers support to the students, families, and patrons in too many ways to count. It is a small town with conservative views, while providing "big town" opportunities with Lincoln only 20 miles to the East. I feel as if my family and I "own" it, or at least a small part of it on 6th street.
As Cather said so eloquently, "We come and go, but the land is always here." Fifty years from now, I can almost guarantee a Mowinkel will be hard to find in Milford. Just as I don't have any real connection to the hometowns of my grandparents (Brunswick, Gretna, Magnet, or Elkhorn), my descendants will most certainly have no other connection to Milford except that I once lived here. But that's ok. Hopefully, they too will find a place they can grow to love and enjoy and most importantly call home, at least "for a little while."