Remember mom's lessons on the Montana way

Billings Gazette

by U.S. Senator Jon Tester

My mom, Helen Pearson Tester, was the real deal. She was the daughter of homesteaders who came to north-central Montana with very little. She was the foundation of our family, raising my two older brothers and me with Montana values of hard work and responsibility.
My mother passed away three years ago after a long, happy and productive life. This Mother’s Day, my brothers Bob and Dave and I are thinking of our mom. We are thankful and blessed.
This is a day I also remember what my mom believed in. She was a defender of women’s rights. She worked hard to make sure all of her children went to college. She taught us that the foundations of democracy are public education and family agriculture. Maybe that’s why I became both a teacher and a farmer.
Helen Tester was also a pioneer. She believed in access to affordable health care for all women — something we remember during National Women’s Health Week this week. My mom believed in good prenatal care, quality preventive health care for women and children, and nutritious food for our kids. Those are values held by most Montanans, and I am proud they are my values, too.
This past Easter, I had a conversation with my wife, Sharla, and my daughter Christine at home in Big Sandy. We got to talking about recent efforts in Congress to undermine women’s health care, education and our basic freedoms. Sadly, we’ve had to fight back efforts to cut important initiatives that provide access to preventive health care, breast cancer screenings, Head Start, affordable college and healthy school lunches.
I told Christine that the fight in Congress right now isn’t a fight that her mother had to fight. It’s a fight her grandmother Helen already fought — and won. Now it’s now a fight that we are ready to take on again.
As the son of a great mom, the husband of a great mom, and the father of a great mom, I honor them by redoubling my commitment to quality health care, better schools, making sure kids can go to college, better care for our veterans, and protecting clean air and water.
As my mother taught me, looking after future generations is the Montana way. It needs to be the American way, too.