On Nov. 30, Madison County was visited by Florida’s Chief Financial Advisor, Jeff Atwater; Florida House Rep of Madison County and Dist. 7, Halsey Beshears; Florida House Rep of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, Mike Hill and Florida House Rep of Lee County, Heather Fitzhagen. These elected officials were guests of the Madison County Republican Executive Committee’s Annual James Madison Constitutional Dinner that took place at Divine Events in Madison. This year’s recipients of the James Blair Award were Mr. and Mrs. Bob Root. This award is given to individual(s) who do not wait for the government to help, they see what needs to be fixed and take care of it on their own. The keynote speaker was CFO Jeff Atwater and to those who attended, he gave a stirring address. CFO Atwater started the evening off by giving a state of the state address. It was brought to light how we in Florida are leading the way for this country in many avenues: Job creation, budget and paying down debt without raising taxes. Then, CFO Atwater, by way of a quick time line, went on to show those who attended the dinner how exceptional America is. In 1793, a 28-year-old by the name Eli Whitney - a free American – invented the cotton gin. Where once people didn’t have the mechanization, Whitney gave the breakthrough that totally changed agriculture. In 1807, a 42-year-old named Robert Fulton – a free American – perfected the steam engine. Goods and services traveled to places they’d never gone before. The world moved like it had never before been able to move, because an American took a chance. In 1839, Charles Goodyear, another free American, invented the rubber to be used for tires. A 28-year-old Alexander Graham Bell – a free American – invented the telephone. Thomas Edison, yet another free American, invented the light bulb. In 1903, Mary Anderson, a real estate developer from Alabama, patented her idea for windshield wipers. In 1903, Orville (32) and Wilbur (36) Wright flew for 12 seconds. Orville said that people could never fly from New York City to Paris because they didn’t have an engine that would run for four days straight. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart would later accomplish exactly that. In 1952, a survey of what worried most Americans showed the results as either being an atomic bomb, or Polio. Polio ended, thanks to 42-year-old Jonas Salk, a free American. CFO Atwater joked that not only did the people of Paris get to see Charles Lindbergh land a plane, whose original idea had been the Wright brothers, but the Parisians would do so, riding their cars that rode on Goodyear tires and sporting Ms. Anderson’s windshield wipers. He concluded his talk with these words, “Free people, turned loose, solve problems. We are not exceptional because of our location, geographical soil or resources. We are exceptional because our Founding Fathers turned us loose and nobody can take that away unless we let them.” It was an uplifting and informative speech that left everyone feeling and realizing how truly exceptional this country and its people really are.