09/19/2012 06:57 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2012

Dan Murph Loves Bowling Green, Kentucky

Dan Murph is a songwriter and music producer living in Bowling Green, Kentucky whose songs have been recorded by Keith Urban, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Sammy Kershaw, Josh Turner, Vince Gill and many others. He is also the founder and owner of a real estate company in South Central Kentucky that specializes in acquiring landmark properties of historical or architectural significance. He has two daughters.

Dear Bowling Green,

Seldom do you find a place that is the perfect balance between big and small, but you are it. Your big-city flair combined with small-town charm often make me feel as if I have somehow traveled through time and space to land in what can only be described as a modern-day Mayberry. Reality may be a bit different than "The Andy Griffith Show," but I can't help thinking that somehow, I have been given a little piece of suburban perfection after a lifetime of urban resentments.

Unlike many people who become deeply invested in their small communities, I was not born in the town that I eventually adopted as my home. This, I believe, has resulted in a more deep appreciation for what I now have, and what I would be lacking anywhere else. Having lived in several large metropolitan areas, including Dallas, New Orleans and Nashville, has only increased the pride that I feel when telling others that I chose, truly, the place where my family's roots would grow deep into the rich Kentucky soil.

I love Bowling Green for the exact reasons that anyone in this country has ever loved their small, rural community. It is the best place my wife and I have ever found to raise a family. There are good schools, safe streets, beautiful parks and the most welcoming community I have ever been a part of. Our town is a testing city for various national restaurants, so we have more dining selections than many small cities twice our size. Fruit of the Loom has settled their company here, and every Corvette you see on the road was assembled within town limits.

These are all contributing factors to why I originally chose to make a daily, two-hour commute to Nashville, where I work as a songwriter, but the truth of the matter is, I have stayed because of the abundant opportunities this community has afforded myself and my family. One such opportunity has been living just a few houses away from Western Kentucky University. I was walking across the beautiful campus one day that I had the idea to build a collection -- one that would spotlight the ordinary means by which renowned Americans from all fields of study have achieved extraordinary things. Now, two years later, we have built a collection of more than 140 items that were donated to us from people such as Sandra Day O'Connor, Jay Leno, Dale Earnhardt, Jimmy Carter and many others.

David M. Kennedy, the Pulitzer-prize winning historian described the collection as "a record of ideas made real and dreams come true," which is why it seems appropriate that it reside in Bowling Green, a small place with gigantic aspirations.

Without Bowling Green as a starting point and inspiration, my own ideas and dreams could not have come true and the Instruments of American Excellence collection could never have been brought to fruition.

Dan Murph