Memorial Day — A time to count our blessings

Published 10:04 am Sunday, May 29, 2022

Every year, as another Memorial Day arrives and summer officially begins, Americans all across our country celebrate freedom. And with each celebration we are reminded that freedom is not free. In fact it has come, and continues to come, at quite a price.

It baffles me how some can wake up every day in this beautiful country of freedom and opportunity and have nothing better to do than complain. We, of all people, have far more to celebrate than we have to complain about. Former President Ronald Reagan said it best: “Double, no triple our troubles, and we’d still be better off than any other people on earth.”

This describes the way I feel about Natchez, and why I think so many people have been moving here, in record numbers. Look around the country and you will see many communities that are still struggling, either with the aftermath of COVID and the financial nightmare it brought upon our country, or with the discord brought about by political divisions and social unrest. 

Email newsletter signup

For many, Natchez has become a haven, and visitors from all over the world have long been enchanted by our beauty, and by our hospitality. Even in Mississippi, Natchez is standing out as an exception. In fact, when I attend meetings with other mayors and municipal leaders from around the state, I sometimes become a little careful not to share too many of the good things we are experiencing. Mainly because it is not uncommon when asking someone, “How goes it in your city?” to get the reply, “Not so good.”

Many Mississippi cities and small towns are plagued with crime and unemployment and can’t relate to the many positive things we are experiencing in Natchez. 

Bobby Dennis, the director of NAPAC, our city’s museum of African American History, recently told me he is greeting close to 1,000 tourists each month. The American Queen and American Cruise Lines riverboats are bringing more than 2,000 passengers to Natchez per week. And just a couple of weeks ago, we hosted thousands for our Mudbug Festival on our beautiful Bluff! 

As we consider all of the new businesses that have opened, new restaurants, new shops, and even new industries, it is important that we pause to be thankful. In addition, when we consider our booming real estate market, and the fact that we have so many good things on the horizon, such as renovated parks, improved public facilities, and, yes, commercial air service soon to return to Natchez, we should say continual prayers of thanks. 

My mother always taught me that gratitude is like fertilizer to a garden — the more you spread, the more it will grow. 

At the end of the day, however, all of this can only happen in a free country. And America is just that. And living in Natchez, in America, is akin to winning the lottery. 

Of course, none of this means it’s all perfect. And yes we have much work to do, and there are many aspects of our country that need healing. This will always be the case.

So on this Memorial Day, let us remember those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we currently enjoy. Our Natchez Renewal wouldn’t be happening were it not for them. 

Let’s remember our armed forces who today stand watch over America. And let’s strive to be a people who do not for one moment take our freedom for granted — nor the price that has been paid. Because Natchez Deserves More. 

Dan Gibson is mayor of Natchez.