pleased and relieved.
expressing gratitude and relief.
As we enter into the 2020 holiday season, I think it's fair to say that all of us have had the opportunity to reevaluate our personal and professional priorities during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Things that we were used to doing can't be done the same way anymore. People that we were used to seeing possibly can't be seen in person as often. And adventures that we used to take either looks different or are on hold until the future.
But in the midst of all this, there are plenty of things to be thankful for here in Fairfax County. A resilient hospitality industry. Time with family. Innovation. Love. There is still an opportunity to focus on what's good - even in the midst of a whole lot of bad. So here are some of the things I'm thankful for in Fairfax County. And I hope that on this Thanksgiving, we all have the opportunity to count the many blessings found here in our midst.
Fairfax County has one of the most diverse populations found anywhere in Virginia - in fact, we have a larger population than Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. And in no better way is our diversity on display than at our hundreds of restaurants which feature authentic cuisine from all over the world. I am thankful that our restaurant scene serves as a delicious reminder of how beautiful we are as a population and a destination. And with winter coming, please do what you can to support our restaurant friends (dine-in, delivery, takeout), as they have been hit as hard as anyone due to the pandemic.
With tens of thousands of acres of parkland and over 900 miles of hiking trails and biking trails, Fairfax County has been blessed with past and present leadership that has preserved our natural resources in such an evolving urban environment. When we all needed a safe escape from the pandemic lockdowns, a place to take our kids, a place to de-stress, the parks were there for us. For me personally, having safe open spaces to entertain my 4-year-old son has been a wonderful experience. Thank you Fairfax County Park Authority, NOVA Parks, Virginia State Parks, and National Park Service.
When I visited Belfast, Northern Ireland, I saw a mural that will always stick with me. It said: "A nation that keeps one eye on the past is wise. A nation that keeps two eyes on the past is blind." The historical assets we have here in Fairfax County and the surrounding area affords us the opportunity to keep one eye on our past and indeed be wise, for these sites offer us the chance to explore our nation's history to ensure that we can eagerly look forward, educate ourselves, and do our best to make the world a better place. Places like George Washington's Mount Vernon, George Mason's Gunston Hall, Sully Historic Site, Woodlawn, Colvin Run Mill, and many others in the County and nearby Washington, D.C. should always be treasured. I am thankful they are available to us.
The collection of museums found here in Fairfax County and the greater National Capital Region expose us to many different aspects of society to which we might never know otherwise. The people who curate these magnificent tributes to our nation should be praised. Without them, I wouldn't have the opportunity to show my son the greater good of mankind in person (unless I was doing so utilizing books or the internet). The ability to walk amongst artifacts and stories brought to life through displays allows us to see, touch, and feel our nation's past. Places like the new National Museum of the United States Army and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center bring history alive for me and my family. I am thankful for the people and organizations who make them possible.
Wineries and Breweries
Fairfax County's wineries and breweries make me happy. Because, you know, alcohol. Thank you to all the brewmasters, winemakers, and visionary business owners who call Fairfax County home. I, and thousands of others, love you for what you do! You've made 2020 a whole lot more bearable.
Aside from the restaurant industry, few other groups of people have felt the pain of the pandemic more than our friends at hotels. Hotels are our home away from home. A place that allows us to stay close to family when visiting. A place that is a base camp for new and exciting adventures. And a place where we typically can gather with friends and colleagues for meetings and events. The dedication our hotel ownership, management, and staff have shown during this tough year to implement new safety standards for visitors while offering accommodations to first responders fighting the pandemic - even while working on a skeleton crew due to layoffs - has been awe-inspiring. And they have done this without losing the core purpose of what they are here to do in the first place - which is to extend their gracious hospitality. I am thankful to all our hotel employees for making Fairfax County a wonderful place to stay and visit.
This is what life is all about, yes? No matter what we go through, no matter what we're faced with, if you keep love central to all you do for others then everything will turn out the best it possibly can. The tourism industry here in Fairfax County displays this in everything they do. The food they prepare. The guests they welcome. The families and children they entertain. The people they employ. The environment they steward. The safety protocols they deploy to keep us safe. I am thankful to live in, and represent, a County and state that stands for love.
These are just some of the things that I'm thinking about during this wonderful holiday season as we all give thanks for the blessings in our life. Times are indeed stressful and different, but there are still many things around us to keep us happy and safe. Feel free to take a moment to reflect on what makes you happy and thankful here in Fairfax County and share those with us using the #FXVA hashtag on social media.