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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Remarks of Jay Fisette
Chairman, Arlington County Board

Civic Federation Scholarship Fund Kick-Off

December 9, 2001

Hello, and thank you for coming today. Special thanks to Jim Pebley, Tim Reese, and to the Arlington Community Foundation for making this scholarship program a reality.

As the outgoing Chairman of the County Board, I have become a little more philosophical. So please bear with me.

September 11 has changed our lives. Though I usually resist overdramatizing the relevance of events, it became quickly clear that our world has changed as a result. So, what will be the legacy of September 11?

Renewed patriotism, and a better understanding of the values that make our country great - such as freedom, justice, and human rights. Many have a more grounded and solemn love of county and love of country.

Renewed respect for the role of government and public employees. I have always believed that government SHOULD play an important and positive role in people's lives. That belief is shared by far more people today than it was four months ago.

Most of us experienced the loss of some sense of America's invincibility and our personal safety. That our security - both physical and emotional -- is a fragile commodity. This is not unique to the U.S. - in fact, our new reality is in fact more the reality the rest of the world has experienced for quite some time.

Confronting death or threats can lead to a reassessment of what is important in our lives. We may prioritize differently, and that's usually a healthy change.

And maybe we will become a little less selfish, a little more respectful of others and compassionate toward those with fewer advantages. Maybe we are more able today to see our similarities than dwell on our differences."

I am convinced that each crisis, personal challenge, or obstacle thrown in our path DOES represent an opportunity. It has been said that, "One sees great things from the valley and only small things from the peak."

And maybe we have become a little less selfish�.maybe. On October 7th at Arlington's Day of Remembrance and Appreciation, I also said, "We are filled with the potential for good, and must not let it slip away." Well this scholarship that you are creating today represents that manifestation of "good".

On September 11th and in the weeks that followed, Arlington responded with distinction and made us all proud. Arlington found itself in the world's spotlight�in people's living rooms. Our ECC, EMS, Fire, Police and Sheriff's office personnel all had a unique role - many on the front lines. Our public employees did their jobs�.did what they were trained to do. As I said on October 7th, they "Helped to turn Arlington's darkest moment into its finest hour."

Ensuring the safety of our residents, employees and visitors is a core responsibility of any government - and our record - both in the recent and longer term past - are clear evidence of our commitment to create and maintain a safe community.

On behalf of my colleagues on the County Board, congratulations and thank you to all involved in the establishment of this wonderful scholarship program.

Happy holidays!

This page was last revised on: December 28, 2003.
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