I am a native of Lee County. After graduating from medical school, I chose to move my family back to Lee County. It is a decision that I have never regretted. My daughters are products of the Tupelo Public Schools and I look forward to telling my new grandson, who just happens to be named David, about his heritage in Lee County. When asked if I would be this year’s chairman, I must say, as a cardiologist, I just didn’t have the heart to say no!
Last Thursday morning, one week ago today, I awoke to a beautiful morning, glad that the sirens had stopped.
I went to the hospital, got on the elevator, and a nurse said, “Good morning, Dr. Irwin; which floor?”
I said “2,” and “how are are?”
“Not good, tired.”
“My town was blown away. I worked all night. They are still finding bodies.”
And things came into focus:
This is the annual meeting of the Community Development Foundation. And as concerned citizens of the community, we have issues and concerns. But in the scheme of things, they are small!
We are concerned about our town, for sure, but we still have a town.
We are concerned about our schools, but we still have our schools.
We are concerned about our people, but we still have our people.
We have work to do for sure, but our “starting point” is not that bad. We are not starting from a point of total devastation. We did that already, 75 years ago.
Whatever we want to be in one year or two or 10, we are at the starting point today, and it is not bad! And that is why I am so glad to be in this pulpit – to have this forum – to remind you and me that our efforts should be the same as if we were starting from devastation.
We must work together.
Wards, districts, streets, neighborhoods, congregations, people – must work together.
Parents, teachers, principals, superintendants, students – must work together.
Politicians, mayors, councilmen, supervisors – must work together.
And we must follow some advice that I attribute to Henry Ford:
“If there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put yourself in the other person’s place, and see things from his point of view – as well as your own.”
So here is a general vision for the next year or so:
- We must always expand industry – big and small – more and better jobs is not just a slogan.
- We must develop here, in the city, a competitive housing market and home ownership is to be valued.
- We must regain the academic reputation the schools have been known for. Period. CDF will be involved.
But more personal and dear to my heart is this:
- We should promote the health care industry, and not just doctors and nurses and hospital – but also teaching, research and allied industries.
- We should promote our downtown as a destination – for finance and banking, law office and hardware stores, but also shopping, entertainment and eating.
n We must support and promote those businesses that are already here – big and small – those that have already put their money where our mouths are.
CDF’s past successes have a very positive effect on the economy, the entire business climate, and the quality of life here in Lee County. We can all be very proud of our support for CDF through investment, membership and volunteerism; CDF is an organization of action not policy.
Dr. David Irwin is a founding partner of Cardiology Associates of North Mississippi. Irwin is a graduate of Saltillo High School, Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi Medical School. Irwin is the first physician to lead CDF as its chairman. Contact him through CDF, 300 West Main St. Tupelo, MS 38804. These remarks were excerpted from his speech delivered at CDF’s annual meeting on Thursday night.
Dr. David Irwin