After making my appointment at the Polaris
factory for a 2:00 p.m. tour, I drove back to the airport to change into a pair of shoes. On the way, I stopped at the Roseau War Veterans Memorial
that was located in a park along the main highway. Surrounded by engraved stones memorializing the lives of veterans of WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, the centerpiece read, “Honoring all who served, and dedicated to the noble deeds of the men and women of Roseau County who served their country, and especially to the everlasting memory of those who gave their lives to preserve the freedoms of humanity.”
I was deeply reminded of my purpose by the efficacy of the message and by the beauty of the memorial itself as it lay awash in the mid-day sun of an American small town. It fully reinstilled the aim of my mission as I ventured forth from the square and drove back onto the wheat-bordered airport. There was a harvest coming soon:
Back at the Polaris factory, there were three other Minnesotans and myself on the tour. Our guide reminded us that all cell phones and cameras had to be left at the front desk before entry onto the floor. She had each of us wear remote earphones so that we would be able to hear her over the din and the grind of the manufacturing process. Thousands of ATV’s and snowmobiles were produced there every year, and we were going to witness nearly every stage of that process. The entire tour lasted about an hour: From the massive welding department, to the steel fabrication and bending areas, to the bathing preparation and powder coating facilities, to final assembly, testing, packing, and shipping areas. The plant was enormous. Men and women were working with focus and drive and an ingrained stamina that was at once machine-like but powered by the passions of the human heart. It was American manufacturing at its best, and I could tell people were very happy to be working there.
After the tour, I walked over to the Polaris Experience Center, a museum hosting a chronology of manufactured pieces dating back to the beginnings of the company, first called by the founders’ last names:
The American themes of entrepreneurship, rugged individualism, radical experimentation, showmanship, and public endearment pervaded the museum throughout. The history itself was impressive, and witnessing the technological evolution of the Polaris machinery was both captivating and inspiring. Being there, I prided on my American birthright. I knew my country would rise up, bearing the same themes I had witnessed there that day, no matter the need or occasion or tribulation to come, to bear the mantle of freedom the world over. I never thought snowmobiles all that inspiring. Until then.
By late afternoon, my morning French toast had digested toward a growling hunger, and I missed my sandals. I decided to go back to the airport to cook up some lunch. When I got there, I had company.