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Montani Semper Liberi (standard:non fiction, 1077 words)
Author: Jim SpenceAdded: Oct 06 2005Views/Reads: 2700/1510Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Mountaineers are always free.

Montani Semper Liberi 

Montani Semper Liberi ... Mountaineers Are Always Free.  These words
adorn the state flag of the Great State of West Virginia.  Yes that 
state, the one that continually comes in last in every statistic kept 
by the federal government.  We're last (or next to last) in just about 
every failing of humankind  obesity, tobacco use, high school 
graduation rate, teen pregnancy.  You name it, we're number one  or 
number fifty, depending upon your perspective. 

West Virginia is one of the poorest states in America.  Our median
income wouldn't buy a cheeseburger, fries and a coke in New York City.  
Our elected politicians are, by and large, good ole boys.  We're the 
butt of many a joke around the country.  The largest employer in the 
state IS the state.  The largest single city in West Virginia barely 
has 50,000 people.  We're mostly known for coal mining, yet the lion's 
share of dollars from mining leaves the state and ends up in the hands 
of the land barons living elsewhere. 

No United States Presidents were born in West Virginia.  I don't even
believe any Vice Presidents were born here; but we are the home of 
Senator Robert C. Byrd. 

West Virginia doesn't have a professional sports team.  We're not big
enough.  We don't have any major TV markets that would be attractive to 
any owners.  We don't have any national monuments  no Grand Canyon, or 
Mount Rushmore or even a Disney World; no NASCAR tracks, no Great 
Lakes, no international airports, no Opryland, no sky needles, no eight 
lane highways, no beaches, no Ivy League colleges.  We don't have any 
rodeos, or any skyscrapers, or world famous vacations spots, or motion 
picture studios, or amber waves of grain; no subways, no Emmy Awards, 
no Mardi Gras and no Rose Bowl Parade. 

With all of the things West Virginia doesn't have, why would anyone
bother living here, you ask? 

Well ... 

West Virginia has some things that a person doesn't realize they wanted
until they were here. 

West Virginia has mountains.  The Appalachian Mountains extend from New
York to Georgia, but in no state are they more majestic, or part of the 
renown, than in West Virginia.  The highest point in West Virginia is 
Spruce Knob, one mile above sea level.  Yes, there are higher points in 
America, but none more breathtaking. 

Because of our mountains we have rivers.  The oldest river in the
western hemisphere, the New River (quite appropriately named, don't you 
think?) ends in West Virginia.  We have the Gauley River which, along 
with the New, offers tremendous recreational opportunities.  We have 
the Kanawha River, formed from the Gauley and the New Rivers in a 
magnificent cascade, which flows through the center of the state and 
directly through the capital city of Charleston, the largest city in 
West Virginia. 

The tallest building in Charleston is barely 25 floors tall  which, if
you think about it, is a plus; how could you possibly build a 
skyscraper more beautiful than a mountain?  The capital city stretches 
throughout the long river valley, encompassing both hill and dale.  Our 
airport, the largest in the state, sits on top of a mountain.  The 
crime rate in Charleston, including the entire population of the 
Kanawha Valley (around 200,000), reflects that of the entire state  
the lowest in America.  No more than a handful of murders are committed 
each year. 

Charleston has no subway systems but, truth be known, you can get from
one end of town to the other, even in rush hour traffic, in less than 
ten minutes.  There are three major interstate systems going through 
Charleston, the smallest city in America to make such a claim.  The 
entire state has six different interstate systems, meaning from 
Charleston you can reach Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, 
Louisville or Charlotte in four hours or less. 

Ah, but once you leave the interstates, the drive becomes a thing of

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