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Delaney: Giving Thanks

11/24/11 5:55PM By Dennis Delaney
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(Host) Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, and commentator Dennis Delaney has been thinking about some of the things Vermonters seem to get right.

(Delaney) Several years ago, while I was attending a high school graduation, I heard the school’s headmaster wish the students “good luck.” And then he added: "Now go make your own .”

I like that sentiment, and I think in a way it also applies to living here in Vermont . We’re lucky to be here - but we work hard for what we’ve got.

Many of us made a conscious decision to live here – and that was smart. Tough as winter can be, gray and gloomy as March and April can be, we never have to go very far to find some of the planet’s most unspoiled beauty. We may not be able to take credit for creating all that natural beauty, but we sure do strive to keep it beautiful.

Way back in Depression days, when poverty in Vermont caused great hardship, the folks who came before us told the federal government not to build a road, with its likely commerce, along the spine of the Green Mountains. And it’s pretty hard to imagine anyone would argue with that decision today – seems Vermonters got that one right.

Fast forward to 1968, when Vermonters said, through legislation, “Out with roadside billboards.” If nature gave us beauty, tacky commerce was not going to dilute it. I was very much amused when FEMA came to Vermont after Hurricane Irene to offer help and there was not a roadside billboard to be found that they could use to get the message out. So Big Brother FEMA had to put signs on the sides of hay wagons!

Occasionally I travel to New Mexico to teach at one of its universities. As soon as I land and leave the airport, a wave of homesickness hits me. Billboards are everywhere, clouding my vision with clutter and cheap commercialism. In Vermont we don’t surrender to what’s ugly; we fight for what’s beautiful. We try hard to get it right.

Recently I read an article by former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In it, she cited a study that reveals a tight link between civic involvement by a state’s citizens and a lower unemployment rate. And you guessed it: Vermont is one of the leaders in the study.

Now, I can’t say that I’m surprised. As a select-person in my Charlotte community I sometimes wonder if we might actually be raising civic involvement to an art form! As I breathe the clean air outside my home, I marvel at the beauty and strength of Camel’s Hump in the distance – and it makes me proud.

At this time of year it’s important to remember just how fortunate we are, in a very troubled world, to be Vermonters – because this place is a bastion not only of beauty but of caring and common sense – because in so many ways, we Vermonters get it right.
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