OUR VIEW | 260 Candles

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We are all, each of us, blessed to live in a city with as much to offer as Alexandria. Our citys 260-year-old history is its most prominent feature. Alexandrias colonial houses and historic churches as well as Mount Vernon just down the parkway let us feel what it must have been like to live in colonial America. People come from all over the world to take in these sights, yet theyre a part of our daily lives.

History is important, but there are so many other facets to Alexandrias distinctiveness and livability. It is a bulwark of neighborhoods, some with a small-town feel, in the mass of roads and over-development that is Northern Virginia. We can enjoy all that Washington has to offer, and then retreat to our own enclave of relative civility.

Alexandria is a place of fine restaurants and boutique hotels with numerous places to get a really good cup of coffee. We have our own community theatre, a water park and numerous beautiful parks many on the Potomac River waterfront. We have terrific youth sports programs, a brand new public high school and good private school options. We have unique entertainment venues like the Birchmere, Pat Troys and Tiffany Tavern. We have art shows, garden tours and bike paths galore.

Were a city that loves a good parade, as our Scottish Walk, Washingtons Birthday and St. Patricks Day parades attest. These parades are the same, year after year, which, rather than being a detriment is what makes them so special. We love the hoopla, seeing our elected officials in kilts and Santa on a fire truck.

Were also a city that doesnt shy away from tackling tough issues. We have the blight of slavery in our distant past, but in the 1960s the citys Boys and Girls Club chapter was ahead of its time in integrating.

Today we struggle to improve school performance as we try to assimilate the dozens of different ethnicities that make up our own, singular melting pot. Other issues, like traffic congestion and the frustration and pollution it generates, are more intractable. But, as is our wont, we will keep trying to solve those issues as well.

Alexandrians have much to celebrate, as there are so many aspects of our lives that bind us together. But were only human. So rather than laud the good in our midst, far too often we focus on what divides us. We wind up with partisan sniping about issues like election dates and residency status of candidates. We will always have different viewpoints on issues thats a part of life. But we need to strive to put those differences aside as much as possible.

When we focus on our common interests, we are bound together. When we focus on our individual interest, we divide and fight. As we celebrate our venerable Alexandrias 260th birthday, we should all stop and think about how we can help our great city be an even better place by striving for the commonalities that unify rather than the differences that separate.

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