West Virginia, Almost Heaven

BECKLEY— West Virginia is a unique place.  Writing here at AmericanMissive.com, I like to think I bring a unique perspective to things.  A lot of this is because of my background and part of this background is where I was born, raised, and now make my home – deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia.

What is so unique about West Virginia? In the words of a New York sports writer for Yahoo the following:

You come from a place like West Virginia and you’re always being told what you can’t do. It’s too rural, too poor, too, well, too just West Virginian. If you’re going to succeed you have to leave, go off to somewhere bigger and fancier. It’s how it’s worked for generations. The possibilities are limited at home, limitless away. So off they go – many of the best and brightest seeking success elsewhere even as they carry their home state pride with them forever.

It’s not coal that is West Virginia’s greatest export. It’s people.

He hit the nail on the head.  We’re rural I’ve got to drive 50 miles to my job which is not uncommon.   Poor, is an understatement.  In the community which I work at the unemployment rate has been on the decline for a decade in 2008 before the economic crisis unemployment was already well over 10% here.  The economic crisis that has been going on nationally still hasn’t caught up to the economic troubles West Virginia has been dealing with for years.

As for the greatest export in this state being it’s people that is spot on.  West Virginia is one of the oldest states in the nation switching back and forth with Florida (retirement haven) on occasion for the record.  Unfortunately, Florida gets wealthy retirees while West Virginia’s younger population consistently leaves the state.  This explains why when the U.S. population has been growing at 8% since 2000 West Virginia’s population has barely grown at all in the last decade (.3%).  Of the two sisters and one brother that I have I’m the only one of four that has returned to the state.  Working in the health care industry in one of the poorest counties of one of the poorest states in the union is as unique an experience as one can imagine diabetes, hypertension, tooth decay, etc., etc. are rampant from the poor and uneducated.  How to keep a business financial solvent is a daily challenge.

Getting to the good news though is that this state does make good people in my biased opinion.  Take for example Bob Huggins a native West Virginian.  Who in 2007 said that he was coming back to West Virginia to win national championships in NCAA basketball.   I love the freedom of that mountaineer spirit that says we won’t be restrained.  Granted we haven’t even made the Final Four in 50+ years (since the days of Jerry West).   We have absolutely no recruiting base.   The entire population of West Virginia is only 1.8 million so this puts us in the recruiting category of say Maine, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Idaho, and etc.   These are also the reasons why West Virginia has no pro sports teams, as such, West Virginia University and Marshall University are West Virginia’s only teams.

Back to the topic of national championships and the courage that it takes to reach for one, I cannot wait for the West Virginia vs. Duke Final Four showdown.  We have nothing to lose with our Sophomore point guard Truck breaking his foot prior to the Sweet 16 we still managed to knock off Kentucky.   We have a ‘regular guy’ who has made mistakes but continues to look toward the future at the helm of our basketball team.   Nobody ever expected us to make it this far into the tournament.  We’ll still be cheered against by everybody with perhaps Duke being the exception (See ESPN’s Likability Index).  I would have deducted probably a couple more points on the Likability Index for most American’s not realizing their is a ‘West’ Virginia separate from Virginia.

Anyways, it’s one win at a time.  The entire state will be watching or listening to the game.  As Coach Huggins has pointed out they’ll even be piping the game down into the mines of West Virginia.  Come this Saturday I hope to be hearing some John Denver being played nationally because it’s about “Almost Heaven, West Virginia”.


6 thoughts on “West Virginia, Almost Heaven

  1. In some ways, West Virginia and Maine face the same problems. Up here, we also struggle with unemployment and count our young people as a valuable asset that we, for the most part, export.

    We often have a good college hockey team, though – and a world-recognized training site for Olympic biathlon participants.

  2. I hear that, we don’t usually get much to cheer for here. Occasionally, we have a good college football team but that’s about it. The Mountaineers against the Blue Devils on Saturday is about as big as it get’s in this state every couple decades. Other then that we just get by through being nice to one another and keeping to ourselves.

  3. Lobster populations off the coast of Maine are supposedly on the decline. Fishermen are being granted fewer and fewer hours at sea by the feds and that also cuts into the availability of bait to be used in lobster traps.

    Same thing happened in maritime Canadian provinces, resulting in some small villages turning to the government dole as their only means of subsistence.

    By all means, more and more central government is needed …….

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