Thrity minutes of my life I will forever cherish

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Nathan White is a sixth generation row crop and cattle farmer from Carroll County Missouri.

He is a graduate from University of Missouri of Agriculture, and active in his community by serving on his church board, Ray County Farm Bureau President, and Agriculture Leaders of Tomorrow Class 14 member.

Below he describes about a brief moment he will forever cherish.

Today I witnessed a very bone-chilling, saddening, and depressing moment in our state's history.  Around thirty minutes of my life that I will never get back waiting in a line for a brief time that I will treasure forever.

It was to honor a Missouri State Highway Patrol Officer who died while patrolling floodwaters in northwest Missouri in August.

Missouri Trooper Fred Guthrie Jr., a father of 3 children, 46-year-old husband, and fearless civil servant of our great state was laid to rest in his home town of Knob Noster, Mo.

It was today that Missouri, his family, and citizens paid respect and honor to a man who went above and beyond his duty for our state, its citizens, flooded farmers, and residents of Holt County during a man-made flooding disaster.

Governor Jay Nixon paid respect and honor by ordering all flags to be flown at half-staff.  I did not know Officer Guthrie, or his family, or his dedication to his job, but today I saw a glimpse of a man's life.

I was late going to the city Christmas shopping and met a roadblock on Highway 13 outside of Richmond to Lexington.  A Sheriff Deputy of the county stopped me on the on-ramp.  He was standing out of his patrol car and had his hand on his heart. I looked down the road and saw in the mist and fog during that cloudy day a perfect shot of 4 miles of law enforcement cars lead by a fleet of highway and city patrol motorcycles.

Their bright emergency lights glistened off the low-lying clouds for miles. The procession moved by as they blocked all traffic and took up both lanes with the motorcade of cycles, hearse, limousines, family, and an uncountable amount of highway patrol from Missouri, many Midwest states, county sheriffs, city cops from as far as St Louis and Memphis. The line was as far as an eye could see.

I stepped from my car, leaned on the side and placed my hand over my heart as the motorcade went by, much like the officer in front of me.  They all awkwardly slowed down and respectfully crossed the Missouri River Bridge just in front of me. Just feet from the road I could see the upset yet somber faces of those passing.

Officer Guthrie disappeared on Aug. 1 while he and his dog, Reed, apparently were swept away by the horrific flooding on the Missouri River in Holt County. Tragically, his body was never found to be returned to the family and laid to rest in the family plot.

He will be remembered in that cemetery with a stone and casket with Reed's ashes, his mementos, official dress uniform, and remembrances.

On Sept. 28 the same day the Army Corps of Engineers opened the last stretch of Missouri River for barge traffic officer Guthrie was declared dead.

The rest of the afternoon and evening while waiting in lines at the mall to park, shop, and check out I was mostly thinking of those thirty minutes watching one of the most heart breaking moments pass by. Farms flooded, homes, property, crops gone, and now a life tragically lost all thanks to the flood of 2011.

I may be going too far, but is the blood of officer Guthrie and all those that were in danger, on the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers?  Who is responsible when all is said and done?  Those three children with no father, this state's river and all its destroyed lands, and no one left saying, “let’s change this right now so it will never happen again"...  I guess this really hit home today when I saw the hearse, hundreds of patrol cars, and the Holt Country rescue squad all brake and slowly cross the Mighty Missouri.

Today my hate for the planning to fail or failing to plan on those controlling the river reached a boiling point. I guess we can look back and said it happened, see the damage, and remember a life lost. I just can't believe anyone who wants to let the mismanagement continue can sleep at night with those beliefs.

We must be advocates, we must educate, and we must do what we can to protect our family, property, environment, and agriculture.

Nathan White
Farmer
Norborne, Mo