W.Va. Spirit

Celebrating the Mountain State

It is understandable that we West Virginians celebrate the natural splendor of our state. We sing about our homes among the hills and even about the country roads that bring us back to them. Our gratitude for where we live seems boundless.

But it is our neighbors — our fellow Mountain State residents — who make West Virginia almost Heaven.

This week, as we celebrate our state’s 156th birthday, reflect a moment on what happens in the aftermath of a disaster anywhere in West Virginia. Our neighbors rush to help, asking only “What do you need?”

Think about the last time you, personally, required assistance. Perhaps your car had broken down in a rural area. Quickly, someone stopped to help — perhaps to remedy the problem entirely. Your offer of payment was responded to by a look that said, “Don’t insult me. Helping is just what we do, here.”

Think about our spirit of independence and our reverence for personal liberties. We respect others’ viewpoints — as long as they do not try to force them on us.

Most West Virginians work hard. Executives of companies that have brought manufacturing facilities here from out of state, perhaps even from foreign countries, find themselves pleasantly surprised at our collective work ethic. Elsewhere, it is not universal.

And we love our country. When war comes, Mountain State residents answer the call. When someone questions our nation’s character, we take it as an insult personally.

We are not perfect. Our habits are among the unhealthiest in the nation. We are in the throes of a terrible substance abuse epidemic. We know we need to do a better job of educating our children and grandchildren, at all levels. And we understand that we must adapt to new economic realities.

But here’s the thing: We know no other people on Earth we’d rather stand shoulder-to-shoulder with in overcoming those challenges than our fellow Mountaineers.

Happy birthday, then, to our fellow West Virginians!