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Crooked Road is not political

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GUEST EDITORIAL

Joe Wilson of Fries is a co-founder of The Crooked Road, Virginia's heritage music trail; and former director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

The Crooked Road has nothing to do with politics. It never has, and never will.
It is a private group of Virginians who want to create jobs and improve the quality of life in Southwest Virginia.
The constitution says citizens of the nation can organize themselves in free associations and work on matters that concern them. That’s what we are, a free association of volunteers.
We pay no attention to politics. Some of us are Republicans, Democrats, and independents, and we like each other and share a concern for our region. We never mention politics.
We are very optimistic people who believe our region is special, and can use its beauty, rich history, and physical resources to create a better future.
By better future we mean more jobs, better jobs, jobs that can’t be exported, and jobs that enhance the nation’s appreciation of a very special place.
Does our work have anything to do with property? Yes, it does.  We feel it will make all property in Southwest Virginia worth more. We do not apologize for that.  
We created our association as a way to get individuals, businesses of many kinds, villages, towns, and counties to work together for improvements of our area. We do not apologize for that.
Yes, we plan to ask Congress to designate our region as a National Heritage Area for two very good reasons.
First, it truly is an area that helped shape the nation. It is the place where Campbell gathered the troops that went to King’s Mountain and fought a key battle in winning American freedom.
The Great Wagon Road is here, literally “the road to America.” There are a thousand other historic resources here.
Second, we can obtain some funding for our work with a heritage designation. It would be limited to matching funding, so realistically, about $275,000 a year. We need and would be most grateful for that support. It is nowhere near the incorrect amount our critics have indicated.
Some of our critics jeer even the historic secular and religious music handed down from the ancients in these mountains. We feel this reveals a level of misunderstanding we should ignore.
But what truly amazes us is their assumption that we plan to do some great evil to individual property rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We love the constitution and its amendments. We like the property laws of the commonwealth, and those of the common law handed down for generations.
We are traditionalists who believe in self-help, and we believe in each other. We also believe that the people of Southwest Virginia know and understand us.
There is a form of gentle Christianity that was brought here generations ago by Scots-Irish and German immigrants and their descendants and it still informs this place.
It hears all before it renders judgment. It takes its cues from deeds as well as words. It is unwise to falsely accuse anyone in this place. The accuser is judged along with the accused.
Those who created The Crooked Road believe their neighbors know them well.