I would like to say, first and foremost, that I believe in peaceful protest. Freedom of expression is the bedrock of our Constitution. Our founders placed this freedom above all others in the Bill of Rights for that reason.
I am, however, disturbed by the recent spate of public and undeserved negative attention focused on Upshur County. Of equal concern are those little signs cropping up all over town. I realize that the well-intentioned folks displaying them only wish to promote harmony and inclusion, etc. Aren’t those signs just a little judgmental, though? Aren’t they subtly implying that our hometown is a hateful place and that we should mend our wicked ways? I’m finding them increasingly irritating. They are divisive and, quite frankly, offensive.
For a small town in the middle of West Virginia, Buckhannon is a remarkably diverse place. It is not a hotbed of white supremacy. The Klan is not our heritage. Our police officers do not brutalize minorities, or anyone else, for that matter. They simply serve and protect. Everyone here is free to worship, or not, as they choose.
Our neighbors are artists, authors and craftsmen, veterans, active military and missionaries. Yes, missionaries. They are selfless volunteers working for worthy humanitarian endeavors. We love our music, our art and our theatre. We are proud. We are patriotic. When we take a knee, it is usually in prayer.
Are we a perfect community? Of course not. But we are a good community. I have witnessed countless acts of kindness and generosity over the years. Hundreds of good deeds are performed daily in our little town that go unremarked. These workers of life’s small miracles don’t do it for the attention it might bring them. They do it because it is right and because they have good hearts.
So speak out, by all means. March if you must. It is your constitutional right to do so. Just remember, hate has never had a home in Buckhannon. I, for one, would like to see it stay that way.