Three things occurred last week that raised my frustration level to a high point when it comes to Appalachia, politics, and our future in Southwest Virginia.
For some of you fellow history buffs, here’s some dates for you.
On this date, in 1789, Thomas Jefferson was appointed the first Secretary of State of the United States of America.
In 1890, the United States stops minting $1.00 & $3.00 gold coin and the 3 cent piece (maybe because of my great-great grandfather, Brandy Jack and his early counterfeiting, who knows…).
In 1892, the first public appearance of John Philip Sousa’s band and a lot of stuff happened on September 26th during the years prior and during World War II. There’s way too much to type.
In 1961, Roger Maris hit his 60th home run off Jack Fisher, tying Babe Ruth’s record (Coincidentally, Maris would not hit his 61st home run until October 1, 1961, off fellow Appalachian and Coeburn, VA native, Tracy Stallard ).
After spending part of the weekend at the Breaks Interstate Park for the “Tales of the Cumberlands” event, I came away with an even greater love for my roots in Appalachia.
I got to spend Friday with my wife for nearly the entire day and then on Saturday, I made the return trip to the Breaks by myself but taking a different route than the traditional Wise to Clintwood to Haysi to the Breaks route. I decided to take the Kentucky route this time.
The Kentucky route is scenic, eye opening, depressing and forces you to be reflective, all in the same journey.
When I started “Appalachian Chained”, I stepped outside my comfort zone.
I internalized a lot of issues, many of them dealing with Appalachia and life until after encouragement from friends and family, I decided to start putting them down online in the blog.
It hasn’t been easy writing the blog. I’ve had to carefully choose subjects, sometimes I have ranted, other times, I have tried to combine my love for history, Appalachia and other interests together into the blog.
But this weekend, I’m getting ready to step outside my comfort zone once again, this time to speak on the life and times of my great-great grandfather and his place in Appalachian/Cumberland culture along with such names as “Devil John Wright, Doc Taylor, “The Red Fox of the Cumberlands”, The Melungeons, and much more.
And once again, I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew on these roots in Appalachia.
It was easy writing this in the beginning but after an e-mail I received later while composing this, it became harder to finish.
I keep hoping for a miracle here in Appalachia.
A miracle sort of like a George Bailey type miracle in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It’s a miracle that I hope for personally and professionally.
You know the miracle. The one that leaves you crying more than one tear and has the little moral of the story at the end of the miracle, like Zuzu telling George and Mary that every time a bell rings, an angel gets their wings.
Personally, I’m looking for a Zuzu moment. A moment that I can say, I finally won the war but know that I have to continue to battle to stay atop of my game. I want to look upward and say “Thank you, God” instead of dropping my head and wondering what I didn’t do to get to that point. After a time, you feel like you can’t take much more.
Appalachia has a problem and if you haven’t already thought it or said it, change is needed for the area to prosper and get back on its feet.
Winston Churchill once said that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Here in Appalachia, you could say that we have an attitude and that little thing called attitude makes a big difference. You can also add that some people need an attitude adjustment in Appalachia.
The thing is, I didn’t use those words “attitude adjustment” nor have I been listening to Hank Williams, Jr.’s Greatest Hits. The words “attitude adjustment” were words used by business owners in Martinsville and Henry County, VA recently at a community forum focusing on getting their region to thrive again.
Sadly their region is facing the same obstacles and attitudes that we are in Appalachia.
I republished my first blog entry entitled, “I am chained to Appalachia” on the new blog address recently.
I had originally published it on another service but after my wife and I were talking one night, she convinced me to start a new blog and purchase the domain name for the site, appalachianchained.com.
My blog was intended to share my reflections and thoughts of my feelings in the moment or my feelings about a particular topic of interest. For short, it’s personal opinion.
Which leads me to why I was surprised to see that my first blog entry had been shared by someone that I think very highly of. It was a compliment to see that this gentleman had shared it with his friends on his Facebook page.
What I was disappointed with was the reaction from just a few people. I know you can’t please everyone but one comment on my friend’s thread jumped out at me in such a way that I was at first angry, then disappointed at the response the man had given and directed at me.