By Larry Groce
First, a few words about West Virginia: In the beginning, geography led the majority of settlers around this rugged area that became the Mountain State. Only the sturdiest, most stubborn, least concerned with personal wealth and most concerned with individual freedom chose to live here.
For many, success equaled survival. That spirit may have been tempered over the years but it hasn't been eliminated.
The late Senator Robert C. Byrd often said, "West Virginia is the most southern of the northern; the most northern of the southern; the most eastern of the western; and the most western of the eastern states. It's where the east says 'good morning' to the west, and where Yankee Doodle and Dixie kiss each other goodnight."
It's not a place accurately described by statistics. West Virginia is anecdotal. You can find the most common stereotypes here if you search hard enough, but they don't make up the vast majority of the population.
In my 41 years of observation, I'd say West Virginians might value the relationships of friends and family above all else.
I hope Mountain Stage has reflected this place:
- The love of friends and family.
- The "live and let live" respect for others.
- The humility of purpose.
- And, the appreciation of face-to-face interaction between people.
We're very grateful to have a small, hard-working team who produce this show. You hear their names in the end credits -- a few are full-time, many work mainly on show day. We're also grateful to others at West Virginia Public Broadcasting whose work allows us to exist.
This year we've indulged in the luxury of retrospection, something we can seldom afford, and found that we've evolved over the past 30 years. We'll no doubt continue to do that as long as we're here.