The recent American presidential election and its outcome has forced me, and many others, to reflect on the state of our society. We’ve ruefully floated around questions like: Is this what American stands for? Is this the legacy that we want to leave? What do we tell the children? What about my marriage? My healthcare? My neighbors and loved ones? The environment? While I do admit that it’s been a hard pill to swallow and I still get a stomachache when I think about it, I am not all entirely surprised of the results. I know the blue collar America who is celebrating this event because I call it home. This is not to say that Appalachia is solely responsible for determining the outcome of our election, but it isn’t innocent of the fact either. Perhaps the hardest thing to accept about the election is knowing the people who raised me and helped shape me into the woman I am today voted for the very ideology that will cause me the most harm. And yet..
We share the same Huguenot ancestor who fled with his life from France and brought his name to the state of Virginia.
We share the same ancestors who ferociously survived along the colonial frontier.
We share the same ancestors who both fought for and against the Crown.
We share the same ancestor who was hanged as a horse thief.
We share the same ancestor who successfully raised a gaggle of children without a known husband in the rough part of town.
We share the same ancestor who evenly divided his estate between his son and daughter because it was only fair.
We share the same ancestor who worked tirelessly in the salt fields before the war.
We share the same ancestors who lived in a Confederate hotbed yet sympathized with the Union cause.
We share the same ancestor who survived the Civil War and threw his rifle in the creek when he returned home.
We share the same ancestor who had two sons out of wedlock, sued the father for child support, somehow acquired one of the largest farms in the county, and left her sons in an exponentially better position than what she had started out in.
We share the same ancestor who, with a shotgun, ran off her no-good son-in-law.
We share the same ancestor who was known as the local midwife and healer.
We share the same ancestor who was one of the few in her family to survive the Spanish Flu, who was too sick to attend the funerals of her mother and sisters.
We share the same ancestor who witnessed almost a century of American history.
We share the same ancestor who traded a river valley farm for a concealed ridgeline farm because he ran a moonshine still.
We share the same ancestor who never got the chance to finish high school because she was needed to help out at home.
We share the same ancestor who was beautifully gifted with a creatively mechanical mind.
We share the same ancestor who anxiously sat at home with three young boys while her husband survived Axis bombings in Europe.
We share the same tenacity, the same fierce fighting spirit, that willfully stubborn disposition, and undying sense of loyalty to our home and our people.
And yet, because of slight tweak in the formula, the we think and believe so differently. I guess that’s just America.
K. Martin-Gross ©2017