15 Nov 2016


It’s been almost 153 years to the day since Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Words that would be memorialized in history as a message to a broken and divided nation. He contemplated aloud whether our nation…or any nation…”conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal can long endure.” Regardless of party affiliation, there have been moments during this recent election season when all of us have wondered if we could endure another day of the process. Our votes have been cast now and it will fall on us to heed Lincoln’s words in the coming months and years…that our forefathers “shall not have died in vain and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
With all the fear, anxiety and trepidation heading into election night, it was a beautiful thing to be part of another important event taking place on Nantucket the same evening. The Nantucket Community Dinner was held on its regularly scheduled 2nd Tuesday of the month – which just happened to coincide with election night. The timing seemed serendipitous – even surreal. As faithful Americans (which included faithful Nantucketers) made their way to the polls – determined to make their vote count for their party favorite – 110 dinner guests and 30 volunteers finished the evening by uniting together (across party lines) at the American Legion Building on Washington Street.
There were no “closing remarks,” pot shots or heated debates. Nobody felt compelled to argue for or against a candidate or platform. There was respect, friendship, laughter and of course the always appreciated 3-course free meal. All of it served up with the realization that regardless of the election outcome, the following morning one thing would remain – we would all still be waking up together on a tiny body of sand in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. If that isn’t an Almighty Unifier, I’m not sure what is.
Nantucket has a history that dates back over 200 years of people who have figured out how to get along. A huge percentage of us are immigrants to this island (the multi-generational locals affectionately refer to us as “wash-ashores,” or “round-the-pointers!”). But once we’re settled here – once we lay down roots, take up jobs, educate our children, donate our time and resources to help neighbors – the Grey Lady flings her arms open wide to embrace us and welcome us to the Nantucket family. We quickly learn to wrestle through local issues together…respectfully…all working toward the same goals. There’s not a single one of us who isn’t concerned about harbor pollution, sewer upgrades, a quality hospital, updated school buildings or care for our elders.
In the coming months, take an opportunity to unite as Americans and with the people of Nantucket. Volunteer for or come dine at one of the monthly Community Dinners, attend a school sporting event and cheer on the Whalers, join hundreds of fellow islanders at the next Town Meeting where we still cast our vote the old fashioned way – by raising our hand! Or simply grab a seat next to someone on a Main Street bench and commiserate about how lucky we are to have Nantucket in common.
Stick Together.

Shellie Dunlap

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