My fellow West Virginians,

It is our time to shine in our resiliency. As Bill Withers sings in his song, “Lean on Me,” we uniquely know in our very beings how to lean on each other. We do it better than any other state.

We have been through so many hardships throughout our great state that uniquely qualify us to meet the challenge before us, in time overcome it, and thrive afterwards.

I was in Florida last week visiting my sister as events unfolded. As I drove under the Welcome To West Virginia road sign on I-64 near White Sulphur Springs, I felt the strength of the mountains and the West Virginians who inhabit this land fall upon me like a blanket.

This is a very tough time for each of us, every American, and most people on the planet. As we share the same burden and fight against a common foe, let’s gain strength from working with each other, and being considerate of each other and leaning on each other in WV, the US and the world.

It is likely the first time in all of human history that so many humans have been united in a fight against a common foe. It is scary, but we are also learning some very valuable lessons and actually feeling them maybe for the first time.

We know now how to really wash our hands. We know now how to slow the spread of all infectious diseases. Most importantly, we are seeing how we need to work together and slow down life so that we can relish each day we are given, and those around us who make those days worthwhile.

Life will be different from now on. We will choose how we deal with this crisis and its aftermath. West Virginians will choose right often. We will do that because we value the most vulnerable first. West Virginians care.

A coworker of mine just signed up for a gym membership yesterday. Now that is hope in the future. It reminded me of Jeremiah’s purchase of a field at a time when Israel was in much worse shape that we are now.

As we lean on each other, and we will need to as we deal with a bit of a slog, we will gain strength that will outlast this crisis and enable us to move forward confident of our efforts and confident that we can build on our fight against this terrible foe, to make West Virginia so much better for having fought the good fight.

As an “insider” who has been privy to the preparation of our local health care providers as a hospital board member and as a WV State School board member, I have seen the diligence of so many to take on this fight from the governor to bus drivers and cooks delivering food to children.

I know that diligence will continue as long as the fight continues. As George Washington said during the dark hours of the American Revolution and President Kennedy reminded us in 1960: “Leave me but a banner to plant on the mountains of West Augusta and I will gather around me the men who will lift our bleeding country from the dust and set her free.” We did it then and now it is our time again. We collectively are up to it. We will get it done.

Thomas W Campbell served in the House of Delegates for 1997-2012 and is a current member WV Board of Education.

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