Most of y'all know that I am a proud Tennessean. I believe that my home state is one of the most beautiful places in the world from the flat lands in the West, to the rolling hills and farms here in Middle Tennessee, to the lush and mysterious Smoky Mountains of the East.
I haven't always felt that way. At some point in high school, I turned the page from adoring and proud Southern girl to somewhat embarrassed and apologetic Southerner. I wanted to get as far away from Nashville and country music as I could possibly get. I didn't belong here anymore, I had to get out! My admittedly self-righteous aversion to all things Southern continued as I packed myself up to go all the way to Middle Tennessee State University. But in college I met hundreds of people from out of state and even out of the country that were so excited to be here. I was confused - why would anyone want come to Tennessee? What's the big deal? Then I started traveling more. I went on countless road trips with friends, went overseas for the first time, met people from all over the world -- and everyone thought it was so cool that I was from Tennessee. When I got to spend a semester in a small town in France, it really hit me. I had American friends from other states that were met with blank stares when asked where they were from. But when I said I was from Tennessee, the French and other Europeans would light up. "Elvis Presley! Jack Daniels! Country music!" I heard this over and over and over. Suddenly, I found myself advocating for my state. No, I was advertising it. By the time I got back on Tennessee soil, I had changed. Tennessee was my home, and I was unabashedly proud of it. And I wanted everyone else to know about it.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet the new Commissioner of the Department of Tourism Development for Tennessee, Kevin Triplett. He showed our group these videos their department created last year to promote our beautiful state, and they gave me chills. This is the answer to my adolescent question, this is why people want to come here. Watch.
There are more videos and photos at tnvacation.com, and you can follow on twitter and instagram @tnvacation. These are completely unsolicited suggestions, I'm just a proud Tennesseean ;-)
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