(This piece was shared by CBS News, among other various news and social media outlets.)
Well, the post-election protests have finally made their way to my hometown of Huntington, WV.
We’re always behind the times, but what took so long?
For you out-of-towners, I know that you’ve heard of our little neck of the woods. Just yesterday we observed the bitter anniversary of the Marshall University plane crash—everyone seems to know about that. We recently made national headlines by having nearly thirty drug overdoses in a single four-hour period. The whole Kim Davis / gay marriage saga played out about an hour from here (sorry, Kentucky, that’s your headline, but we’re close enough that we had to suffer through it). It also became national news yesterday when two Clay, WV officials (also about an hour from here) were goofy enough to show themselves on social media, one calling our current First Lady an “Ape in heels” and the other applauding the sentiment.
To the outside world, I bet we don’t look like the mecca of hope. In fact, we get so used to reading our own press that it’s sometimes hard for us to imagine that a ray of light could shine out of our backyard.
However, the first protest has begun. Continue reading
*Author’s note: I almost didn’t post this today as I feared it might not be appropriate on Veterans’ Day. However, after attending our town’s parade and ceremony this morning, hearing the bands play our patriotic songs, seeing representatives from every military branch, and paying our respects to the courageous men and women who have served our country with dignity and honor, I realized it was more than appropriate. Thanks to the sacrifices of these men and women, we live in the greatest country in the world, where we continue to be free to disagree and wrestle our way through some hard discussions.
God Bless America!
About a quarter-century ago, I was preparing my first student teaching lesson for a West Virginia history class. I remember it well.
Often theatrical, I was rehearsing quotes from John Brown, the crazy-eyed, self-proclaimed instrument-of-God abolitionist whose band of ruffians stormed the armory at Harpers Ferry. Though really not that big of a deal in and of itself, the raid was a spark that helped ignite the powder keg of division that became the American Civil War.
“I am now quite certain,” I quoted Brown in my best gruff, indignant, mountain man voice, “that the crimes of this evil land will never be purged away … [lengthy pause for dramatic effect] … but … with … BLOOOOOOD!” I poured that final word all over the students who were half-amused, half-terrified. Continue reading
I’ve lived most of my life with a longing gaze toward a distant horizon, believing in a mystical something-better out there.
The constant challenge for most folks who grow up around here has always been geography. In West Virginia, the same hills that protect you from the outside world also tend to cripple your chances of seeing beyond the ridge in front of you. Most West Virginians remain semi-affectionately imprisoned in their own little hollers from cradle to grave (save the occasional big trip to Myrtle Beach, laughingly referred to as the Redneck Riviera). A few—our best and brightest—get out as soon as they can, and why wouldn’t they? If your ticket out of West Virginia gets punched, why would you spend one more second in a state that is ranked among the poorest, most depressed, least educated, most drug-addicted, least healthy, and most miserable places in the entire nation? Continue reading