Reflecting upon life, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan points to his maternal grandfather as having a profound influence on him.
“Monetarily, a very poor man,” the Sheriff said flatly. “He had 60 acres he farmed with a horse and a mule.”
The farmer raised eight kids, plus Morgan. The sheriff credits his grandfather with instilling cornerstone values—namely, that a man is judged by his merit—that have served him throughout his life.
“Character, class—and I would even stretch it to nobility—is not a birthright,” Morgan explained. “Those are characteristics inherent in each individual—it’s your responsibility in early adulthood and throughout your life to nurture those characteristics.”
As Escambia’s sheriff, Morgan recognizes the authority that has been granted to him. But he says he also realizes that authority requires responsibility.
“I feel accountable,” Morgan said. “While you may be endowed with sweeping power, one must remember they are always accountable.”
The sheriff feels he is accountable to the citizens of the county. He also believes elected officials are responsible for representing those citizens, as well as Escambia County as a whole.
“You’re the character and moral compass,” Morgan said. “You’re the face of this community.”
When asked if he considers himself to be a mentor to anybody, the sheriff shifts in his chair as his tight-jawed smile loosens slightly in thought. The self-gratifying notion seems to conflict with his unflinching concept of the way things should work.
“Not by title,” Morgan finally answers. “If you want to assume a title you’re probably not deserving of it, those are the wannabes. Hopefully, you’re unknowingly a mentor to somebody—those that you encourage to be better than they are.”
Perhaps that’s what Morgan learned from his grandfather—the farmer taught the sheriff the meaning of life.
“Actually, the meaning of life is a very simple thing,” Morgan said. “It’s just the reverse of the question: the meaning of life is to have your life have meaning.”