West Virginia Day is Saturday, so I’ve polished up a column I first wrote for the day in 2016.
We have more regular writers of letters to the editor than you would guess, but that’s probably because you don’t see them in print.
They come from a guy in Londonderry, N.H., another one in Sevierville, Tenn., and others from Maine to Texas to Utah. The closest to home is a fellow on the other side of the Allegheny Mountains in Fairmont.
Interestingly, they’re all guys. I suspect they’re all fairly old, although at my age I’m getting more reluctant to characterize senioritis any more, and they’re all alarmed at the state of the union in ways that would make you cringe, which is to say they make me cringe.
These writers get a passing mention today because the Fairmont scribe submitted something a couple of years ago that has rattled around in my brain since then.
He had written a lengthy creed for West Virginia just in time for West Virginia Day.
We didn’t publish it because (a) we really don’t like to give space to out-of-area alarmists since we have enough of our own and (b) it wasn’t really what it said it was. His creed — which ought to be a statement of beliefs shared by all West Virginians — struck me as being more of a screed, which Webster defines as a long piece of angry writing.
It was lengthy and definitely written with an angry mindset that came from one far side of the political spectrum.
If you’re like me, then you probably think of a creed in religious terms. Catholics and mainline Protestant denominations — Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterians, other Reformed churches and Congregationalists — say the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed regularly in worship as an affirmation of what their faith stands for.
“Affirmation” is a key component here. A good creed needs to succinctly express the shared beliefs. It needs to inspire. It needs to ring true. It reinforces our beliefs.
I liked that Fairmont writer’s notion of a creed for West Virginia enough that it has kept bubbling back to the front of my mind. I like the notion enough that you’ll have to excuse my arrogance in trying my own hand at it.
“I am a West Virginian.
By birth or by choice my heart belongs to these hills and hollers, these woods and rivers, these villages and cities.
I believe our greatest asset is our people. I believe our deep family roots and our embracing communities make us strong.
I celebrate the music, the tales and the achievements that keep our heritage alive. I believe in the promise of tomorrow.
I believe in the power of our resources to create a good life for our people and I believe in our responsibility to protect and preserve what God has given us.
I believe the 35th star shines brightest of the 50.
I believe Mountaineers are always free.”
There you have it. Call me a cockeyed optimist. Call me a blamed fool, but that’s my gift for West Virginia Day, which we celebrate Saturday.
It’s short enough to memorize, so on June 20 I expect you to give me a full recitation if you see me.