April 27, 2014

Can-do attitude key to progress

“In finishing what little we have to say concerning ourselves, we wish to offer an apology … It is far from being the kind of work we should like to produce, if we had sufficient encouragement to do better. Up to this time our town has been far behind the times as to (things) of this character. While other towns of far less real merit than our own have been … attracting to themselves hosts of visitors, investors, and new residents, and frequently large business enterprises, we have done nothing to let the outside world know of our many advantages and attractions.”

My slight paraphrasing of the quote above is from an apology offered by the publishers of the Plattsburgh Daily Press 117 years ago, in 1897. It is the type of apology and lament we often hear in Plattsburgh still today, more than a century later. Only we can determine whether we hear the same lament two centuries later, in 2097. Let’s stop apologizing.

I often try to peel away the layers of the onion to understand our sense of inferiority. I can’t explain our self-imposed tyranny of low expectations, but it has been an eye-opening exploration.

I’ve often proclaimed the many natural, locational and historical virtues of our region. The North Country has natural beauty, vastness and grandeur that only a handful of places in this nation can claim. It is without peers for hundreds of miles.

The North Country wears the word North like a badge of honor. To us, it does not mean bleak and cold, but instead reminds us we are nestled up to a friendly nation with whom we’ve shared a border forever, and with whom our economy is so intertwined that, should Canada sneeze, we might catch a cold.

Our region has been trading, first among Native Americans, and, following Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in 1609, with France, with Britain and with Canada even before settlers arrived on the Mayflower. The Village of Plattsburgh was founded 230 years ago next year. Heck, on Sept. 11, 2014, we will celebrate the bicentennial of a day in which a village saved a nation.

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