I would like to say that there is a unique and innate set of qualities bred into the folks that call Northwest Florida home, qualities granting us a peculiar resiliency during trying times, but I can’t say that. What we have is a growing and diverse community with a rich military influence.
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Being "local" around here these days often just means that you did at least one tour of duty at a regional base before later returning to call the area home. We are increasingly a melting pot and as such, we represent the complexion of our country at large.
Fortunately, though we might not be justified in claiming any special qualities as Northwest Floridians, we can as Americans, who are, on the whole, a hardy, optimistic and ambitious lot. Here in Northwest Florida, we harbor within ourselves the same drive to thrive and improve the lives of our families and our communities shared by most Americans.
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Now that is not to say that the Gulf Coast of Florida is not a special place, because it is. We have thus far preserved a shred or two of authenticity that has been entirely lost in those parts of Florida that more frequently and stereotypically occupy the national consciousness.
What we also have is a collective history of adversity which strengthens us, much as the grapevine clawing for water pushes roots deep into the ground becoming hardened to the struggle.
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As a community, we have endured oil spills, recessions and countless hurricanes. After each we emerged a better, stronger community.
And so too shall we emerge better, stronger and more resilient than ever from this particular adversity.
Nathan Boyles is Okaloosa County’s District 3 commissioner.