Guest Column

A Tribute to Yaak, America

Thank you for highlighting what truly matters to all of us as Americans

By Dan Wilson

On America’s Independence Day, when other candidates were waving to large parade crowds from the streets of Butte, Red Lodge, Bigfork, and other great Montana towns, I traveled, instead, to a quieter corner of our state to celebrate America’s birthday in one of our more secluded communities – Yaak, Montana. And the day turned out to be a perfect reflection of all that is good in our country and our state.

Unlike many parades aimed at celebrating every aspect of the Fourth of July, the Yaak Community parade has a singular mission – to celebrate the founding of America.  

The parade formed in front of the Yaak Mercantile and consisted of less than a dozen vehicles. There was a flatbed trailer crowded with straw bales and children, a classic red Ford Model A pickup, several ATVs decorated with red, white and blue streamers, a tricycle adorned with flags, and me in my not so classic Ford pickup with American flags waving out the windows and campaign signs attached to the sides with duct tape. 

Our parade spectators along the scenic Yaak River Road included tall pines and fir and a handful of folks who waved from their yards as we passed by, until we arrived at the Yaak Community Hall where everyone gathered for hot dogs and a potluck. Following the meal, the crowd assembled around the main steps of the Community Hall, first, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and second, to bow our heads for the invocation – a prayer for the good of our country. Next, eight of us took turns reading through the Declaration of Independence. I felt privileged having a small part.

The crowd listened intently to the words of our forefathers, cheering for the parts highlighting the reasons for asserting American independence and booing over the King’s abuses. It was like being transported back in time when Americans were reading the Declaration for the first time as they confronted the challenges of separating themselves from tyranny and forming a new nation conceived in liberty.

To the Yaak community, thank you for highlighting what truly matters to all of us as Americans. By reading the document that stands testament to the birth of a free nation, you mark our enduring commitment to stand free from tyranny in all its various forms. And thank you, as well, for allowing this candidate to witness the true measure of your patriotic devotion and to play a small part in your town’s rich, American tradition. 

It was an honor.

Judge Dan Wilson is a candidate for the Montana Supreme Court.