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  • John Grant

Turning‭ ‬80‭ ‬in My Home State of Florida‭

The day has finally arrived,‭ ‬and I am about to become an octogenarian,‭ ‬entering my ninth decade of life.‭

I still live on the same property‭ ‬where‭ ‬I was born,‭ ‬at a time in Florida when the state was largely covered by‭ ‬ranches and groves.‭ ‬I attended a country school where students wore bib overalls,‭ ‬and some were without shoes.‭ ‬The pants were without zippers.‭

Locomotives belched black coal soot as they passed by on the tracks near my home.‭ ‬My grandfather was born in‭ ‬1845,‭ ‬the year Florida became a state,‭ ‬and my father was in the U.S.‭ ‬Army in WWI.

When I was born,‭ ‬America was recovering from the Great Depression,‭ ‬fighting World War II and the fabulous‭ ‬50s were about to begin.‭ ‬Florida was still somewhat undiscovered,‭ ‬and the total state population was less than the‭ ‬three-county Tampa Bay area I live in today.

It has been a great experience to watch our state grow,‭ ‬not only in population but‭ ‬also in terms of space travel,‭ ‬technology and tall buildings.‭ ‬When I was young,‭ ‬our small airport was served by three airlines and much travel was still done by train.‭ ‬Most roads were two‭ ‬lanes all cars were stick-shift.

When I went to college,‭ ‬the first in my family to do so,‭ ‬the entire university,‭ ‬which now boasts more than‭ ‬50,000‭ ‬students,‭ ‬had a student population of‭ ‬1900.

Politically,‭ ‬the state was heavily‭ ‬Democratic,‭ ‬but they were conservative Democrats.‭ ‬When I first got elected,‭ ‬I was the first Republican from my county to be elected to the‭ ‬state‭ ‬House of Representatives since‭ ‬Reconstruction.‭ ‬It was the beginning of a total shift in political power.‭ ‬The local newspaper called it a‭ “‬harbinger‭” ‬of things to come.

I smiled about being a Floridian as‭ ‬the Sunshine State and I grew up together.‭ ‬It was a great state then and a better one now.‭ ‬As it has grown,‭ ‬the median age has shifted so that now one out of five adult Floridians‭ ‬is classified as‭ ‬senior.‭

That’s why I established Seniors Across America to reach out and lift up seniors as they traverse the journeys and challenges of senior life.‭ ‬I understand them because I am one and very proud to be a senior Floridian.

I am a patriot.‭ ‬I love my country and I love the great state of Florida.‭ ‬As I am in the fourth quarter of my life,‭ ‬maybe‭ ‬even‭ ‬in overtime,‭ ‬and‭ ‬as we celebrate the Fourth of July,‭ ‬I am proud to be both an American and a Floridian.‭ ‬May God continue to bless our state and the USA.


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