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April 20th, 2010
10:16 AM ET

Dear President Obama #456: Prairie, and pizza, and farm implements ... oh my

Reporter's Note: I’m still in Kansas, so I suppose I should be sending postcards instead of letters to the White House this week. But then once President Obama stuck them on the refrigerator for a while, they’d get all dusty and he’d take them down, but he really wouldn’t want to throw them away, but gosh what do you do with them?...you know the drill. So here’s today’s letter.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

It’s been a long day out here on the prairie. (Ha! Sounds like a letter to Jefferson from Meriwether Lewis.) We started in Wichita working on our Building Up America stories, traveled on to Kingman to see a farm equipment manufacturer, then onto Greensburg to talk about that town rebuilding from a terrible tornado, and finally we doubled back this evening to Pratt where we are busy editing away on the CNN Express as I write this at midnight.

And you are seriously missing out on all the fun. This is just a fantastic time of year to be on the Great Plains. Absolutely achingly green fields stretch along the highway in some places, while in others controlled burns send sheets of fire and towering columns of smoke into the sky. Along the creek beds, the cottonwoods are filling in fast, creating those little islands of coolness that will be so inviting in just a couple of months; the clouds are skittering against the blue; startled pheasants are peaking from the roadsides while hawks soar far overhead…ah, it’s the life.

I found out something interesting today: Almost every new job that is created in Kansas comes from an existing company, or one that is started by a local. Unlike other states, this one does not enjoy a strong influx of out-of-state firms that just decide to move here. And Kansans are just fine with that, because they have learned that those who work hard, have good ideas, and persevere can not only make it…but also make it big.

Take those two graduates of Wichita State who borrowed $600 dollars in the late ‘50’s to open a restaurant called Pizza Hut. They worked hard, took on the competition, kept cranking the pies and almost twenty years later sold their little idea to Pepsico for $300-million. Can you imagine? That’s a lot of pepperoni. (Btw, I’ve included a picture of me and my producer, Katie, standing in front of it. Woo hoo!) I don’t know about you, but I find such stories inspiring, especially in a recession. The toughness and ingenuity of these Kansans has clearly been born of a certain necessity: they’ve had to find their own ways to succeed because they’ve long known that no one else is coming to their rescue.

Not sure when I will get to bed, and I have to be up early in the morning. So you’re welcome to call, but please don’t be upset if I can’t chat much…I’ve got much to do and miles of prairie to travel before I sleep…and afterward too.

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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