In the words of Mark Twain, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Those words echo and define how our governor has spent the past several years, months, weeks and even days mocking Kentuckians from every walk of life like an abusive partner in a marriage. 

Instead of lifting up all that is good about all Kentuckians, each day Kentuckians are bombarded with nasty one-liners from Frankfort that belittle Kentuckians from all walks of life. At the risk of deflating our governor’s super-sized ego, let’s take a moment to consider the accomplishments of those who live, work, play and dream in Eastern Kentucky; especially those who live, work, play and dream in the diamond region of Eastern Kentucky in Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin and Pike counties.

Take a moment, close your eyes and dream about all that the diamond region already offers, and then dream about what the region will offer as the next generation of the diamond region roll up their sleeves, dig in and create the opportunities of the future. Dream about the jobs which are being created in the diamond region, jobs which would be impossible without the partnerships which are being created because of those who want to build-up, not tear-down the diamond region; partnerships with other Kentuckians and Americans, not partnerships with those who want to build businesses with public dollars in partnership with foreign governments.  

Now, take a moment, close your eyes and dream about all that the diamond region already offers with the unending beauty of the mountains, culture and history of the diamond region. Simply said, it would be impossible to list every opportunity which already exists in the diamond region as a result of the people and culture of the mountains, the people of the diamond region. With the incredible resilience and entrepreneurship of those who live in the diamond region of Eastern Kentucky, the day will arrive when it will be Eastern Kentucky, not Eastern Tennessee, which will be the vacation destination for thousands of families who want to enjoy the lakes, rivers, and mountain beauty of the diamond region.

Now, take a moment, close your eyes and dream about what the future of the diamond region will look like a year from now, five years from now or in the future. To borrow from the words of Vince Lombardi, “It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenges and does something about it.” When Vince Lombardi spoke those words, it is almost like his words were intended for the people of Eastern Kentucky, for the people of the diamond region of Kentucky, a region which contributes to the greatness of America.

Now, take one final moment, close your eyes and dream about all that the diamond region of Eastern Kentucky has already accomplished, countless accomplishments which for others might have been impossible to achieve but for the friendly, hardworking people of the diamond region; people loaded with skills, talents and an incredible desire to dream and contribute to the growth and success of the diamond region of Eastern Kentucky, all of Kentucky, and of course the greatest country on earth, America.

So, as I often do, I would invite everyone to join me on my imaginary mountaintop, especially all of the friendly, hardworking people of the diamond region of Eastern Kentucky, a mountaintop known as Pine Mountain which lies between Shelby Gap and Elkhorn City, a place where we can all look out across the beauty of the diamond region and dream about the future of a region, a future which will be built on the dreams and ambitions the people of the diamond region.

Oh, and by the way, maybe, just maybe, it is time to send a message that it is time to end the nasty one-liners which are only intended to belittle the ambitions of Kentuckians; it is time to join the people, not belittle the people, as they dream the dreams which will define the future the diamond region, of Kentucky and the future of America.

Mark Wohlander, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, practices law in Lexington, Kentucky and throughout Eastern Kentucky. His columns and Liberty prints are available at, fivesmoothstonesky.com

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