Today is the deadline for comments to be heard concerning Blair Mountain in West Virginia, being set aside as a historical landmark or whether the coal operators will level Blair Mountain.
It’s a fight that has gone on for a long time, even after the initial battle there in 1921. If you are not familiar with Blair Mountain, here is a synopsis.
According to the opening paragraph of the account in Wikipedia, Blair Mountain was the site of one of the “largest labor uprisings in United States history and one of the largest, best-organized, and most well-armed uprisings since the American Civil War.”
Back in 2016, my friend Steve Gilly, the co-host of “Stories: A History of Appalachia”, and I recorded a podcast about Blair Mountain and the history of this significant event.
People awaiting a number to enter the Remote Area Medical event at the Wise County Fairgrounds, Wise, VA. (Photo by Remote Area Medical)
Upon first glance, it looks as though you are watching the evening news and the above picture is a photo of refugees fleeing a country or region in search of a better life.
But look closely. These are the faces of Americans. Appalachians. They are refugees. Healthcare refugees searching for free medical care that they cannot afford in the what is supposed to be the greatest country and humanitarian country on the face of the planet Earth.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill
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.
As I was going through my Facebook news feed this morning, I found an unexpected surprise.
No, I didn’t receive a friend request from a girl that liked me when I was in elementary or high school and no, not a request from a Nigerian ambassador telling me that I had inherited a room full of stock in a worthless, non-existent oil company.
It has been an extremely tough week looking at the news concerning Appalachia and in particular, Southwestern Virginia, its future, and the dwindling population numbers for the region.
The headlines have been attention grabbing. The Roanoke Times with op-ed pieces entitled, “Should we just let Appalachia go?” and “Population loss in Virginia’s coalfields region projected to continue for decades”, have been enough to rattle me and plunge me into depressionary depths this week and for that matter anyone else when seeing headlines like that or diving into the figures.
It’s enough to make anyone put their hands to their head, start running and screaming to get me out of Appalachia.
After reading the articles, I decided to sit down and put a positive spin on the population loss from Virginia’s coalfields. One of my hobbies include designing logos and things for friends or projects, so I decided to develop a logo and a campaign for the Commonwealth of Virginia to use as their next big economic endeavor at, ahem, saving Southwest Virginia or better yet, pushing the entire region off the cliff.