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Wandering Florida

Wandering Florida-"A Florida 4th of July"�
By Joe Murphy
Jul 6, 2006 - 2:46:00 PM

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I love my country.  My love of America is grounded in many things that make this nation such an incredible place.  The Bill of Rights, our rich history, the diversity of America's cultures, and the incredible spirit of kindness that Americans have all area a vibrant part of the American mosaic.

 The main thing that grounds me in my love of America is the land.  I love this country, I love Florida, and I love the community I call home in eastern Hernando County because I am passionately in love with the land.   The forests, the rivers, the open spaces��our nation is filled with incredible and vast landscapes that are awe inspiring.  

Every year on the Fourth of July I'm a sucker for hot dogs, fireworks, and apple pie�but I like to make the Fourth of July about something more.  I have a tradition of trying to get out and explore some part of this state on the Fourth of July to keep me grounded in my love for the land, and for America.
 Janisse Ray, one of America's most gifted nature writers, ponders the extent to which human culture is an extension of natural landscapes.  In the American South are we still who we have been when we cut the last longleaf pines or fill the last wetlands?  She wonders if our cultural heritage will eventually be diminished if we lose our natural heritage.  Isn't America a nation where the land and waters have shaped our history and culture?  What happens to our national culture, identity, and spirit when we have lost the natural waypoints that guided us thus far?

 This Fourth of July there are a lot of stories in the news about national debates over energy policy.  Congress is debating the expansion of drilling for oil and gas off the coasts of Florida and North Carolina, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  There is a legitimate debate over energy supply and environmental protection occurring, but perhaps what is lost is the extent to which these places are essential to the American experience. 

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are rich in American history.  Some refer to that area, from Virginia down to Georgia, as the "History Coast."  I oppose drilling for gas and oil in the "History Coast."  Let's protect the Gulf Coast of Florida and the wilds of Alaska, and use something else uniquely American to move our nation forward in terms of energy policy.

 We are a nation of inventors and explorers.  We have a tremendous history of innovation, exploration, and ingenuity.  We have an entrepreneurial spirit that runs deeply through our national character.  Let's turn our best researchers loose and use the subsidies we currently provide to the oil and gas industry to fund the best American inventors, scientists, and business leaders to find real, long term, renewable sources of sustainable energy.  We can't drill our way to energy independence, but we can innovate our way to energy independence.

 I am taking my Florida Fourth of July this year and heading up the Nature Coast.  The vast, open, and natural coastlines of Florida's Nature Coast and Florida's Panhandle could be threatened by oil and gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.  So this Fourth of July I'm going to celebrate America by celebrating her landscapes�and then on July 5th I'll celebrate my rights writing Congress and urging them to put money and effort into real energy solutions.  America is never greater than when we face a challenge.

To contact Joe Murphy about his "Wandering Florida" columns please email him at

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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