A call for unity

Published 9:58 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

“Our future will be amazing as we embrace it together.”

It was a message that should resonate in a community where not that long ago a significant portion of the population still identified more with Nansemond County than with the city of Suffolk.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson’s State of the City address on Thursday was replete with references to togetherness, unity and pulling together to face challenges. She made the obligatory references to the successes that Suffolk has seen during the past year, spending an appropriately significant amount of time talking about the economic investment promised by dozens of companies that have announced expansions or new locations in the city.


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In a speech that capped off the annual State of the City series sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the mayor also pointed out some of Suffolk’s other accomplishments during the past year. The state championship won by the King’s Fork High School boys’ basketball team, the opening of the East Suffolk Recreation Center in the building that once house East Suffolk High School, the Virginia Farm Family of the Year honor won by a Suffolk family and Suffolk’s award-winning National Night Out program were among the highlights.

Johnson wove the idea of unity throughout her comments. “Working together, playing Together,” Learning Together,” “Celebrating Together,” “Growing Together” and “Healing Together” were the major headings of both her speech and a video that the city had prepared for the audience of business, community and civic leaders.

It’s a theme that Suffolk — divided in many minds into North Suffolk, downtown and agricultural areas — has yet to fully embrace, but the ideal behind the theme is still sound. A city whose residents see themselves as representing a variety of individual interests can never be as successful as one whose citizens understand the importance of an interdependent approach. As Suffolk’s citizens begin to grasp the vitality of all of Suffolk’s various communities, they will begin to see that there are few challenges they cannot overcome.

And then some truly amazing things can happen.