30 August 2007

Country Roads...Mountain Mama...Yadda Yadda

OK, let's get into it. My home state. West Virginia. West "By, God!" Virginia. It is, believe it or not, a state not, as many think, a geographic area of Virginia. We were admitted into the Union during the Civil War, on June 20, 1863. Let's face it, western Virginians were fed up with being cut off from the wealthy Virginia landowners, their southern ideals, their ownership of slaves, and had practically no dealings with the state government in Richmond. When Virginia joined the Confederate States of America in 1861, those 19th century western Virginians decided they had had enough. West Virginia is the only state to have seceded from another state and, let's face it, Abraham Lincoln needed all the support he could get. Our statehood was constantly called into question by Virginia until 1871 when the US Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia's favor regarding county line disputes.

Our motto is Montani semper liberi - Mountaineers are always free, our bird is the cardinal, and our flower is the dogwood (yeah, not very original since we copied Virginia). One of our economy's main resources is, you guessed it, coal. The economy is poor, a college education is not a priority for the majority of the population, and even though it has the smallest percentage of people speaking a language other than English at home, those back-woods citizens living out in the "holla" speak a version of English that is barely understood by the rest of us.

Despite all of this, West Virginians are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Growing up in a hardscrabble environment with constant hardships make Mountaineers a rugged yet loving people. What upsets me the most is that a lot of morons in this country don't even know that West Virginia exists.

I once wrote a check in my college bookstore and when I showed my West Virginia driver's license to the cashier she said, "I have a cousin who lives in Richmond!" I even heard of a fellow Mountaineer whose West Virginia ID was rejected because the store clerk claimed it was a fake ID meaning, "There's no such state as West Virginia." Those people who do realize that we are a state think that all Mountaineers are stupid hillbillies whose only occupations are marrying their cousins and making moonshine. All I have to say is I've never tasted moonshine in my life and my husband is SO not my cousin.

OK, sure, I've been living in Georgia for the past 13 years. But, once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer. Just ask Don Knotts, John Corbett, Jennifer Garner, or Senator Robert Byrd. West Virginia has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, and great outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, whitewater rafting, BASE jumping (from the New River Gorge bridge), and fishing. My home state is an outdoors man's (or woman's) paradise.

The only bad thing about being from West Virginia? John Denver's song Country Roads. Being called a "Mountain Mama" anytime someone finds out you're a Mountaineer is not cool. So, stop it already, 'kay?

Go to http://www.wv.gov, educate yourself about the union's 35th state, and if someone ever tells you they're from West Virginia you can shock them by saying, "I know this girl from Charleston!" They'll be mighty impressed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have really made my day with this blog :) I live in White Sulphur... just near the border of WV and VA, and I have a lot of family in NY that still don't understand the concept of "West Virginia". My uncle says stuff to me all the time like "What part of western Virginia do you live in?" in which I respond "The southeastern part." It's frustrating, but humorous at the same time... I even married a man from here, whom I have to say is the nicest man I have ever met in my life. Once you are welcomed into the state, it's hard to leave :) I just love it here and I plan on spending the rest of my life here... I am a mountaineer!