As a native of the Mountain State, it doesn’t really matter where life may take you, you will always remain a West Virginian.
But as I grow older and have gotten the chance to travel, I came to realize that there was one other state in this country that has convincingly won me over.
I have fallen in love with the state of Texas.
1) Texans and West Virginians are both fiercely protective of their states.
When you first travel to the Lone Star State, nearly every gift shop will be selling hats, mugs, and other items, emblazoned with the words, “Don’t Mess with Texas.”
And although West Virginians don’t use the same slogan on
their tourist merchandise, they most certainly share the same
You don’t mess with West Virginians either.
The people of those two states don’t mind making a few jokes
about themselves, their heritage, or their history, but they don’t
look too kindly on outsiders who dare to poke fun at them.
I admire that pride in anyone who greatly values the place of
2) Texas and West Virginia were both created in the midst of conflict.
West Virginia was born during the Civil War, when it separated from the state of Virginia. It seceded from
secessionists, a process that probably wouldn’t have survived any serious Constitutional scrutiny.
In addition to some differences on slavery, the more mountainous regions of the state didn’t feel like they were adequately represented by the more-populated, lowland regions of Virginia.
Texas also gained its independence by coming out victorious in their bitter war with Mexico. It became its own Republic and was later annexed by the United States of America, but joined the South in secession.
Since both states were conceived in conflict, perhaps it was this innate desire of their settlers to be free and independent which marked the character of their descendents. It also explains the West Virginia state motto, “Mountaineers are always free.”
3) Both states have a bold and unflinching heritage of gun ownership.
Unlike many of the states in this country, Texans do not flinch at the idea of individual gun ownership; they celebrate it.
Among gun owners and their families, guns are not seen as weapons. Although guns are often carried for personal protection, their purpose is defensive, not offensive. They are tools which must be properly cared for and respected.
Guns are treasured as precious, family heirlooms, passed down from fathers to sons, reminders of their forebears and hunts taken by youths while accompanying them.
In 2015, an Islamic terrorist couple decided to shoot and murder a bunch of their associates at a Christmas Party in San Bernardino, California. When their carnage was finished, 14 people were dead and over 20 were wounded.
That same year, a pair of Islamic thugs, angered by what they considered insults to their prophet, Mohammed, planned a shooting and mass murder at a gathering in Garland, Texas. Arming themselves with rifles and grenades, they made their way to the Curtis Culwell Center to carry out their dark mission.
The murderous pair of Islamists failed miserably in their evil plan. The pair never successfully entered the building and were gunned down outside.
In reference to the one who shot them, a Garland Police Department spokesman said, “He did a good job.”
That is Texas.
California Governor Jerry Brown prides himself on his opposition to firearms and people are routinely murdered and victimized. The governors of Texas would not be elected if they made those same kinds of anti-gun thoughts public. And there, people live!
On his way into Canada, one of my West Virginia friends told me that a Border Guard once made this statement to him.
“Everybody in West Virginia owns a gun!”
The state of West Virginia, which has traditionally been Democratic, has voted Republican in every presidential election since 2000, largely because the Democrat candidates were opposed to the Second Amendment.
Proud and common gun ownership, it is a great and noble tradition that both West Virginians and Texans share.
4) Texas and West Virginia are populated by proud, friendly, and loyal people.
West Virginia has some of the friendliest and most giving people I have ever known. My first trip to Texas also revealed that same sense of generosity and brotherhood.
I instantly fell in love with the people of Texas.
It matters not where you might be in this country, if your shirt has that “Flying WV” symbol, somebody with a West Virginia connection will always stop to speak to you, to ask where you’re from, and to shake your hand.
As proof of this, on my first visit to Tombstone, Arizona, an older
lady, with ties to Parkersburg and Charleston, insisted on giving me
a hug because she saw the West Virginia symbol on my shirt.
That is the friendly nature of West Virginians on display.
Texans are much the same way.
All over the world, people may not know much about our country, but they have ALL heard of Dallas, J.R. Ewing, and Texas. And to many of those across the seas, we are all cowboys and Texas IS America.
It is a commonplace occurrence for a Texas farmer or rancher, upon seeing a simple funeral procession, to halt his work in the field, stand at attention, and hold a hat over his heart to show his respects for the passing of this unknown soul and the grieving loved ones of the departed.
It is for these reasons, and many more, why this proud West Virginian has adopted the glorious land of Texas as his second favorite state.
West Virginia will always hold sway on my heart, but I am not ashamed to share my affection for the wonderful land and people of the Lone Star State.
The state of West Virginia is truly a special place. Those Mountaineers, privileged to have been born there, share a special and unique kinship.
My Second-Favorite State.
The more I thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that perhaps there’s a good reason that the state of Texas had such a strong appeal to me.
The two states actually have a number of things in common, qualities which make them like no other two places in America:
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