Silver Lining for Thanksgiving

Silver Lining for Thanksgiving

I am thankful that the Silver Line of Metro is now a reality. Persons living in Loudoun County can get on the train at Ashburn, the westernmost station of the Line, and ride to Largo, Maryland, without getting out of their seat. For some a trip might be to go from Reston to downtown for work or educational or cultural reasons. Persons living in the District of Columbia or Maryland may make their way to Tysons Corner or Dulles or points in between for their jobs or for the educational opportunities available in the region. The new line provides a thread that can tie our region together in an environmentally friendly way and enrich all parts of the area.

The line was a long time coming. The forward-thinking planners who envisioned and built Dulles Airport in the 1960s set aside land on which the Dulles Toll Road and the Silver Line are built. From that early vision of the transportation needs of the region would be a long stretch of doubt, reluctance, and lack of political will that needed to be overcome.

To respond to the resistance to making bold steps to meet our transportation needs, I along with Patty Nicoson and other business and community leaders established the Dulles Corridor Rail Association (DCRA). I am thankful for the business and community leaders with whom I worked on this project for the persistence we had to show and for the number of times we had to nurture the project back to life. It was particularly fulfilling to see the politicians who lined up to show their support for the Extension at the ribbon-cutting when some of them had been among the most difficult to convince in the beginning. Some had even expressed opinions in the early years that the project would never be built.

There are other silver linings at this Thanksgiving time. I continue to be astonished at the generosity of so many who organize and contribute to charities in our area that help feed, clothe, and house those in need in our community. Our local governments in Northern Virginia are very progressive, but it takes the whole community of volunteers, nonprofits, and faith groups to make our community open to those in need. 

I am also thankful for the wonderful educational systems we have in our communities in Northern Virginia. The dedicated men and women who teach our young people deserve our daily thanks. We have the beginnings of more universal early-education programs that will reward us with future student success because of their early start. Likewise, our public safety and fire and rescue programs are without equal making us among the safest places in the world in which to live.

Is everything perfect? No, it seldom is. It seems to me that we need to honestly acknowledge where we are in our quest for a more open and just society. Some will grumble that we cannot solve the problems we have—just like they did with the Dulles Rail Silver Line. But that project shows us that no matter how big the problem might be, if we can dream a solution, we can make it a reality!