I just finished reading a post and all the comments that several friends, my sister and I had written on FaceBook about my hometown, Sistersville. It began when I made the comment about how proud I am to be from West Virginia.
“You know, when I saw the news for the past week about the storms that hit from the great lakes to the east coast, I wonder why the emphasis on Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia was what was in the national news, and only a few mentions of West Virginia. Then I answered my own question, West Virginians are a tough group of people, when something happens there, they don’t go begging for help, they roll up their sleeves, fix what needs fixing and then help their neighbors. They don’t wait for FEMA to get there and they definitely don’t expect help from Washington. This is what makes me so proud of the great state of West Virginia. I have traveled a lot in my life and have lived in many different places, but there is only one place I can honestly say that I was proud to live, and that is West Virginia!”
I was concerned about why the national media would not mention much about WV, but then realized the people there might not have let them in (there was a rimshot there, it was a joke! Ha!). But in all seriousness, West Virginians are probably the most resilient, toughest, yet generous people I have ever known.
Since the storms hit, I have been texting, emailing and calling home, seeing how things were going. A lot of people were telling me, “they have the electric in New Martinsville,” or “the crews are just down the road, we should have electric in a couple hours.” But not once I did I hear anyone complain about anything except maybe how hot it was. As I read on FaceBook from other posts that were trying to find out how their family members were doing, it was amazing to me how many people would take the time to answer a post with “I am going to be out toward your family’s place, I will check on them for you,” and still others that would post that they had water and ice for those who needed it. To top off the generosity of the people back home, was no matter how much was going on, they would take the time to walk outside and offer water to the crews who worked tirelessly on restoring power to the state.
What I have been talking about, has been just one area of West Virginia, but I can say that the whole state is like this. I mentioned to someone the other day how they should look at people from West Virginia,
“There is no place in the country, let alone the world that has more people that would give the shirt off their backs to help out others, but don’t talk down to them, because the same kindness can turn to a fast butt whoopin by the same people.”
It is funny when you mention West Virginia in another part of the country, they often reply, “Is that the western part of Virginia?” Then when you try to explain that West Virginia is a real state of its own, you get the “Are you kidding me,” and the not so nice jokes that most of us just laugh along with. I mention this because, to most people, West Virginia is a small state, with coal mines, mountains and bad roads, but to people like me, West Virginia is where I want to be, and I long for those “Country Roads, Take Me Home!”
*Note: When I speak of West Virginia in this post, I am also including the entire Ohio Valley, because basically, we are all pretty much the same from there!