National Society of Newspaper Columnists
There is a steep granite cliff among the towering White Mountains of New Hampshire, where, for many years, the glacier-sculpted profile of “the Old Man of the Mountain” looked out upon the state — guarding its historical significance, uniquely American ideals, fiercely independent residents, and breathtaking natural beauty.
Oddly enough, New Hampshire’s Old Man emblem looks strikingly similar to NSNC’s beloved profile logo, affectionately referred to as “Alex.” We figured it was about time the two square-jawed fellows met. And so, I am very excited to announce that NSNC’s 41st Annual Conference will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 8 to 11, 2017!
Cross those plans for a trip to leafy, maple-sweetened, colonial New England off your bucket list, because we’re going there next spring! Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire and the most populous north of Boston, is easily accessed by the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and is a center for industry, arts, and culture in New England.
But just outside of this vibrant “Queen City” are world-class hiking spots along the Appalachian Trail – perfect for an excursion before or after our conference. And, within an hour or two of Manchester’s historic district, one can visit the Freedom Trail in Boston, Maine’s majestic lighthouses, the rocky Atlantic coastline, crystal-clear lakes, and idyllic Vermont dairy farms.
NSNC’s 2017 conference promises to be an event jam-packed with informative speakers, practical workshops, and entertaining excursions. For example, on Thursday night, Manchester’s AA baseball team, the Fisher Cats, will host NSNC for dinner and a ball game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. And on Friday and Saturday, attendees will have opportunities to meet literary agents, sell books in our newly expanded book fair, and learn how to make money podcasting.
Speaking of making money, the theme of our 2017 conference is “Live Free and Write … But Not for Free!” – a take on New Hampshire’s official state motto.
You see, in a peaceful park in Manchester stands the gravestone of General John Stark, the famous New Hampshire who is credited for using the words that became the state’s motto in an 1809 toast.
Stark fought gallantly in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars, and, on the anniversary of the Battle of Bennington, he was invited to a 32nd reunion being thrown by his wartime comrades. Too ill to make the trip, Stark wrote his fellow soldiers an eloquent letter expressing his regrets:
Nothing could afford me more pleasure than to meet “the Sons of Liberty” on that fortunate spot. But … the infirmities of old age will not permit; for I am now fourscore and one years old, and the lamp of life is almost spent….
I shall remember, gentlemen, the respect you … have shown me. Till I go to the country from which no traveler e’er returns. I must soon receive marching orders.
~ John Stark
P.S. I will give you my volunteer toast: “Live free or die. Death is not the greatest of evils.”
John Stark died at the age of 93 and is buried beneath that grassy Manchester gravestone, but his legacy lives on in the bold state motto. And although the prominent profile of the
Old Man of the Mountain succumbed to erosion in 2003, steel replicas stand the watch,
keeping New Hampshire’s remarkable culture and traditions intact.
And NSNC’s traditions of camaraderie, professional development, and fun will live on, too. During the New Hampshire conference this June, we will raise our glasses in the hospitality suite, and say a toast to Alex, to the Old Man, and our comrades in column-writing: “Live Free and Write … But Not for Free!”