The Friendliest County in West Virginia!
How often do movies based on true events actually mirror those true events? Not often, it seems. Still, movies are meant to entertain and sometimes the truth is less entertaining than the story we see on the big screen. We in West Virginia can be a bit skeptical about what we see on the big screen, or especially the small screen, concerning our state. Too often people from elsewhere come here, not for the purpose of showing an accurate reflection of our state, but rather they come to further their own agenda by highlighting the ugly and passing it off as the normal.
Case in point is McDowell County. As West Virginians we are often made fun of by people who have never visited our beautiful state, and we often take offense. Yet, we in West Virginia do the same to one of our very own. I am quick to defend our state against the unjust characterizations heaped on us by an ignorant populace from other states. Yet I confess that I was part of the ignorant populace within West Virginia that jumped on the bash bandwagon for what many perceive as our poorest county – McDowell.
Of course, I had never been to McDowell County. I simply bought the perception of a county where drugs and crime are rampant and of an ignorant people too dumb to move away from their poverty. The same perception many people from other states have about West Virginia, when those people have never even been here.
Of the 55 counties in West Virginia, McDowell was the last one I visited. I saved it for last because everyone I spoke to said that there was no reason to go there since there wasn’t anything there. However, last month was my first visit and I’ve had several since.
What did I find?
I found the county with the friendliest people in the state. I found a proud people who are misunderstood and often overlooked and left to fend for themselves by the rest of the state for the bogus reason that they’re just too poor and ignorant to be helped. I found that small town America where neighbors help neighbors and where strangers are treated with a kindness you simply don’t find anywhere else. I found a county that isn’t asking for a hand-out, but just a fair shake.
In short, I found the county that the other counties in this state would do well to emulate in terms of friendliness and living the golden rule of doing onto others as you would have them do unto you. And just as I defend this state against the ignorant misconceptions of outsiders, I’m going to defend McDowell County against the ignorant misconceptions of her fellow West Virginians.
After all, if any people should know the injustice of misconceptions and hatchet jobs, its West Virginians. Why then do many West Virginian’s wield that same unjust hatchet against one of our own?
Since the answers to ignorance is information, I’m going to be writing some blogs informing anyone who will listen of what McDowell County has to offer and of the good people who live there.
Some of my upcoming blogs will be about Northfork and her national record. About the tributes to veterans and defenders of our country throughout the county. About Coalwood and growing up dreaming in a small town. In short, about the good people of McDowell County and their fight for survival.
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