LIFE

Virginia is for Lovers

Growing up in the Old Dominion and its many glories

As a child, I often rifled through our furniture’s drawers in search of trinkets. My favorite was the pack of cocktail napkins stored in our buffet. They were simple, embroidered with a pineapple in the corner and etched with the purple text of an anonymous poem. The purple letters read, “To be a Virginian either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one’s Mother’s side, is an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign country and a Benediction from Above.”

Adults call it the “Virginia Creed,” but at the time I didn’t particularly care about any creed — I just liked the pineapples. Being a Virginian wasn’t a big deal. It was just where I happened to be born, where my family happened to live.

My mother’s family lived in Virginia Beach and all told tall tales of Norfolk’s evil plot to incorporate Princess Anne County into their city. They were Virginians through and through. My father’s family originally hailed from North Carolina and then settled in Staunton, a small town west of our beloved Charlottesville. But even if I am a Virginian by birth, how much stake did I have in being a Virginian? Really, it was just happenstance, and how different could Virginia be from all the other states?

The other day, I had only typed “vir” into my Google Chrome search bar when I realized just how relevant and important Virginia is to my life. Virginia.edu would take me to my University, which has provided me with the greatest four years I could have dreamed of. The Virginian Pilot would remind me of an incredible internship experience, a rewarding opportunity to work with driven people. Virginia Beach would take me back to my hometown.

In coming to the University, I was struck by the sad fact that not everyone has a beach so near. It seems clichéd to say, but I took for granted how privileged my childhood was. Hardly anyone here has a dad who took them to the beach every Sunday night after the tourists left. Hardly anyone has such easy access to both an ocean and a bay. Now I go to school in the Blue Ridge Mountains, arguably the most beautiful mountains in the country. To be fair, I haven’t seen any others — but how can anyone appreciate mountains that aren’t blue? I summer at the beach and winter in the mountains, all without leaving my beloved state.

Not everyone drives by the first Episcopal Church in America, which was attacked by Lord Dunmore during the Revolutionary War. Not everyone has America’s first permanent colony within an hour, or Colonial Williamsburg just a bit beyond it. The capital of the Confederacy is just two hours away from my oceanside town, and more importantly the Nation’s capital sits just two hours further. Virginia is the mother of presidents, boasting their homes and contributions. A childhood in Virginia is one immersed in history.

Of course there are divides within our beloved home, namely the one with Northern Va., which to be honest, I still don’t really understand. From what I can tell, it’s a bunch of confusing roads all boasting numbers for names, littered with subdivision colonies. But everyone from NoVa seems to love it, and many return home. Regardless of where they come from, Virginians seem to be grateful for their homes. After all, Virginia is for Lovers.

If that wasn’t enough for us all to recognize that Virginia is better than the other 49 states — how’s this: we’re not even a state; we’re a Commonwealth. We’re unique, only accompanied in our state-not-statehood by Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Massachusetts. Take that, other 46 states! So wherever I end up in the next year, or rather next month, I’ll always be grateful to call Virginia home — to be a Virginian first and foremost, and to understand the true meaning of the Virginia Creed.


Published April 16, 2013 in Columns, Life







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