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This blog is authored by Mark Hinesley, Chamber President/CEO
3 minutes reading time (645 words)

We Are VERY Lucky…

Like many of you, I had the opportunity to pay my respects to some true American Heroes over the Veteran’s Day Holiday and other community appreciation events these past few days. I too found it a great time to reflect on just how lucky we are to enjoy the freedoms afforded us by those who have gone before us and the sacrifices they made. Of course there are many, many shining examples of how blessed we are as a community, state, and nation.

I’ve noticed a couple of things in the last few days that have really helped to drive that point home. One of those “things” was something I witnessed first-hand last week while attending the Governor’s Press Conference at West Wilson Middle School. (I could go on and on about that event and the significance of the reason for that announcement, but I will save that for another article.) At this event, our current Governor (a Republican) Bill Haslam invited his predecessor, (Democrat) Governor Phil Bredesen to share the stage with him. Governor Haslam gave very worthy praise to Governor Bredesen for all he and his administration had done to lay the groundwork for what has been accomplished in the area of public education in recent years. I wonder if most folks really ever stop and think about just how unusual something like this is in many other countries.

First off, in a lot of other countries, an administration can only take over when they literally kill the current administration. Some outgoing leaders are put in prison (along with their friends and families!) or held in bondage for the rest of their life. Some of the luckier ones are exiled to a foreign country to live out the rest of their life. And here we are inviting them to join us on stage. In the very big picture, that symbol was to me perhaps more significant than the glowing improvements in our educational system. My compliments and sincerest admiration to both of these true gentlemen!

And to provide yet another example of how we often take the most basic of our rights for granted, what about the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (representing over 152,000 learning institutions in Pakistan) banning the book I am Malala, written by the 16 year old girl who was shot by the Taliban. They were afraid it might portray them in a bad light. Well, hello… no kidding! I doubt anything like that book-banning would be tolerated in the United States. In fact, given what I have seen and heard of during recent music awards shows, she would be an instant Rock Star in this country and would be blowing up iTunes and other downloads.

Granted, those are two very different examples of a ball and chain. And maybe, just maybe it was because I was a bit more aware of my surroundings these past few days than I usually am, but I even noticed football players on TV helping up the guy they had just leveled on the playing field. For these few and all of the countless other things we enjoy, I thank our Vets for making it possible! Call me nuts, but you know what? To me those little things say a whole lot about “us” and just how lucky we are to enjoy the freedoms we sometime take for granted. I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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