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Excerpt: What is a hillbilly?

   "A hillbilly is someone who can't look out his window without seeing the big hills, and feeling small and big at the same time because of them.
    "He's somebody with a heritage of independence his hill-folk family gave him, because - cut off from other people by the mountains - they had to make it by themselves.  Someone stubborn and tenacious because he's learned that, while faith can move a mountain, it might take a little time.
    "He's friendly, because mountain teach that there are more important things to fight than people - and that if your closest friends are both sides of a mountain distant, they're better held onto than fought with.  And he's industrious.  Even living lazy in mountain country can work a man pretty hard.
    "He's somebody who knows that only God can make a tree - and figures that if He troubled to make a whole state of forested mountains, that state must be specially blessed.
    "A West Virginia hillbilly is a man with wealth underfoot, wealth towering over his head, and only the beauty all around him coming easy.  He has his troubles - but plenty of toughness and faith to stick it out, sometimes looking poorer than he feels...
    "Why not give that stubborn, tenacious, independent hillbilly - the real backbone of all of us - credit for what he laid the foundation of?  Let's hope we have the guts to live up to him, facing the wonderful, favorable odds his grit preserved for us.  Take away his name and you take away the credit from him.
    "Somebody asked George Washington what he'd do if it looked as if he were losing the war.  He said, 'Give me but a banner to plant upon the mountains of West Augusta' - their name for this area in Washington's day - 'and I will gather around me the men who will lift our bleeding country from the dust and set her free.'
    "He knew his hillbillies."

Source: Jim Comstock


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