Born of difference
As towns and cities mark the 150th birthday of West Virginia this week, citizens get a chance to mull over the troubled times of America’s Civil War. In most people’s minds, the state’s sesquicentennial is a real celebration of our pride in West Virginia’s culture and history. But our state was born of great struggle and sense of division.
Imagine how strongly people would have to feel to push for the formation of a brand new state, to reject the leadership and history of their home state and call for something entirely different?
Western Virginians were undoubtedly an afterthought to their more prosperous and politically-powerful neighbors to the east. Separated by physical geography and economic hardship, mountain folks likely felt that their needs and concerns hardly registered for business and political leaders in Richmond. The move by Virginia to secede from the Union pushed those regional differences over the brink.
Here in the Eastern Panhandle, leaders and citizens alike have often complained that our concerns – growth, traffic, business competitiveness, regional cost of living pressures – aren’t reflected in the choices our state government makes in Charleston. But most believe without a doubt that our differences are balanced by the characteristics and values we hold in common with the rest of West Virginia’s counties.
We think West Virginia’s big birthday year is a great excuse to go explore the history, landscape and communities all across our state. Take the opportunity to brush up on some state history, visit the state’s beautiful parks, meet some fellow Mountaineers, and drive the winding roads that crisscross the mountains we all call home.