Tonight I attended the 90th Birthday Party of my Uncle Dan. As I entered the room I saw my aunts, my uncles, and all of my extended family. I was instantly thrown into déjà vu.

I grew up in a very peculiar environment. My father lost both of his eyes at the age of five and is completely blind. He is a brilliant man. After completely his schooling he served as the County Attorney for 36 years. If you got busted in our community you were going to jail.

My uncle was the mayor for most of the time I was growing up. I had two aunts that also lived close by and you’ve never had your ear chewed on or your arm twisted and bent until one of them got a hold of you.

I stepped into the party room and my Uncle Robert (the mayor) instantly cornered me and proceeded to tell me about a pipeline that was coming in and I remembered that I better put my A game on. You see, half of my family is extreme strong Republicans, the other half Democrats and there is no middle ground in this family. When you stepped into a dinner table in my family you had not only better have your logic lined up, but you better bring your A game with presentation. This indeed is a family of very strong opinions.

I watched with great delight as the head table, seated with all of these siblings (all of them over 85 years old) proceeded to table and espouse their views of the world. I took great joy in understanding of where I got my strong opinions.

I have two resounding thoughts that fall out of this little experience. The first is: Have opinions. Take a stand. Don’t be afraid to espouse and stand up for what you believe in. The reality is, it adds value and if you don’t do that, then you are nothing more than a flag flapping in the wind.

Here is the second. I have often stated (and many of you that have followed me, have often heard me state) “A stupid man never learns from his mistakes, a smart man learns from his mistakes, and a wise man learns from others mistakes.”

We need to pay honor to the sages in our lives. Those who have went before who have made a difference. Tonight I was able to sit around with this group of individuals and watch with great interest as they espoused their views and beliefs and indeed through my life I have been able to learn much from these great individuals. I pay respect and honor to my Uncle Dan on his 90th Birthday. I honor my Aunt Louise and for her feisty, dog-headed determination. I honor my brilliant wonderful father and my Uncle Robert and those uncles and aunts that have went before me.

We need to make sure that we honor and pay respect for those that have knowledge that we can learn from.