Almost 6,000 miles from Cheyenne - the heart of America's Great Plain - lies another vast and fertile land: the great plains of central Africa.
The plains of central Africa seem far removed from the daily life - the difficulties, and accomplishments of Wyoming. But what you do here - how you meet your problems - the effectiveness with which you use your soil and water, can help spell the difference between progress and poverty, freedom against slavery for the people of central Africa.
For in the plains of Africa, and the pampas of South America, and the farmlands of Asia, millions of people are struggling to emerge from the poverty and hunger which their land has always known. They are aware that, for the first time, modern technology offers hope that all men may be free from want - and they are determined to have the fruits of that technology for themselves.
In this great effort the emerging peoples of the world are looking for leadership. Perhaps the most important single issue of our time is whether they will look to Moscow or to the United States - whether they will choose freedom or whether they will feel that submission to communism is the price of progress.
If we are to insure a continued spread of freedom around the world - if we are to halt the advance of communism - we must demonstrate what our own history proves - that the road to progress is freedom's road. But we cannot demonstrate this simply with speeches or with propaganda or by pointing to past achievements only. It is only by moving ahead at home - by expanding our economy and our resources - by pushing forward to new heights of abundance and productivity - that we can demonstrate capacity and vitality in a free society.
And we must begin that demonstration here in the Great Plains.
The Great Plains cover one-fifth of the land area of the United States. They are rich in resources: in land, in minerals, and in water. Yet our failure to develop these water and mineral resources - to adequately plan against flood and drought - has often brought economic distress and has kept you from realizing full abundance of which our land is capable.
As a result of these failures thousands of potentially productive acres are unreclaimed - the Colorado River storage project has been neglected - your mines are suffering from declining markets - your water problem grows more acute every day - and your unparalleled recreational facilities are not fully developed.
The Democratic Party - in its platform and in its record - has provided the resource and mineral programs which are necessary for development of the Great Plains. And in 1961 - under a Democratic President we will put these programs into action.
But the Great Plains need more than a series of piecemeal programs and policies - important though those programs may be. We need an entire new concept of resource development which will treat the entire Great Plains area as a single unit - which will develop each of your resources in terms of its significance of the economy of the entire region, and which will select policies designed to promote the growth of that economy.
The next President must appoint a Development Planning Committee for the Great Plains - a high executive body which will formulate overall plans for resource development and oversee the operations of specific resources and mineral program in order to insure maximum benefit for your region. With this new concept of regional development we can bring increased prosperity to the Great Plains, and provide a model of progress under freedom for all the world.