By: Anonymous - Mountaineer News Contributor
Update: April 7, 2020 | 02:02AM EST
As I sit in this small town in Central West Virginia, shut in and shut down by this pandemic, I would like to reach out to the rest of the people in this country, who are also struggling with this horrible scourge and ask them to look, for one moment, at our town.
This town isn’t in the national news. It doesn’t make the headlines unless it’s for opiate or coal mine deaths. As a matter of fact, we are, generally just the forgotten poor white trash that America wants to sweep under it’s collective rug and forget.
However, here in Buckhannon, WV, we are doing things that appear impossible for New York City.
We are coming together and helping each other. But, this isn’t anything new for us. It’s always been this way. That’s why we’ve, historically, been called clannish by outsiders. We dig deep and help each other when times are hard because, simply put, no one else will.
I want others to look at Upshur County, WV, the economically depressed, opiate addicted, county in the heart of central WV... central Appalachia... and take a cue. That’s right, I don’t want them to look away or feel pity. I don’t want them to come to our aid. I want them to look to us as a model for future pandemic restraint.
We are the home of the Sago Mine disaster, supposedly, the most Trumpian town in the country (NPR), a hard-hit community in the center of the opiate epidemic, yet we are surviving.
We may not have everything figured out here. We may have problems, that to the outside world, appear insurmountable.
We may have the highest opiate overdose rate in the nation and one of the highest rates for poverty and unemployment. (I didn’t even fact check myself there because I don’t have to. The data always remains constant. West Virginia is always at the bottom of the bottom for the bad stuff and at the top of top for opiate deaths.)
Whether we should have or shouldn’t have, we’ve grown accustomed. It’s what we do here. We have always endured, always forged ahead, always taken care of our own... because no one else will... and, frankly, we have to.
We are the forgotten minority. The poor white trash that no one has wanted to talk about since FDR took pictures of us in the Great Depression. We produce the nation’s energy and take our dirty selves home to die with dirty lungs and empty bellies.
But, here, in this generation’s greatest trial, we have once again come together. It’s not new to us here.
Here, in the heart of this small town, a sewing factory is humming with volunteers sewing hand-made face masks. They have provided those masks to essential employees and anyone else who wants them. Some of the hospitals won’t accept them, yet. However, the day may come when they must. And, our community knows this. And, we are preparing.
We are just a small community with a very small sewing factory and a handful of volunteers and people willing to donate money and material, yet we are doing it. And this thing, this act, is bringing us together. It is helping. In some way, it is helping. We are all doing what we can do. And, that, in a nutshell, is what we, as West Virginians do.
I watch the news every day, and every day the Governor of New York is pleading for supplies and equipment. We, here in WV, have not been hit as hard as NY, but we could serve as a model for other communities.
Surely, there are other sewing factories in the US. Surely, there are other volunteer seamstresses. Surely, we can find a way to provide ourselves with the most basic necessities.
Perhaps, the rest of the world could take a moment to look at little Buckhannon, West Virginia, with it’s perpetual problems and negative statistics, and see a way forward, a way to give and care for each other in the worst of times.
We, here in WV, are used to it.
Unfortunately, the rest of the country may have to grow accustomed to it as well.