By Candace Hardin
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
The term “Hillbilly” is often misunderstood.
The word is mainly used to insult those considered ignorant or out of touch, however, the word quote/, unquote hillbilly has a rich heritage.
The term did not come into play in the United States until 1900, when a New York Journal article defined the hillbilly as a “free and untrammeled citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he can get it, and fires off his revolver when the fancy takes him.”
As it was in 1900, so is it today, New York professes knowledge of subjects that they may or may not know anything about at all.
Usually, hillbilly is applied to people who live in the Appalachian region of the United States. Due to the rugged terrain of the area, the people who populated the land were very isolated. It was not until WWII when the men were called to war and the advent of the television in the 1950’s that the region was exposed to all the advances of the twentieth century.
Many notable and respected public figures came from humble “hillbilly” beginnings.
A short list will include entertainers Lucille Ball and Patsy Cline, author Cormac McCarthy and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The common misconception is that the mountain people are ignorant as they have not had the educational advantages that most cities offer.
Nothing can be further from the truth. The skills an Appalachian or hillbilly may possess could be ones that save the world in a crisis.
Hank Williams, Jr. refers to these skills in his song, “A Country Boy Can Survive”.
“We can skin a buck, we can run a trout line, and a country boy can survive.”
The talents the song lists are the ones that would be called into play should anything disrupt our comfortable state of electronically assisted, instant gratification way of life.
Historically, Americans are the original rebels. Our ancestors left Europe to seek freedom to worship, freedom to live as independent people in a free land. The original colonists were not conformists, neither were they looking for a free ride. They immigrated to this land to make their own way and live by their own rules.
Long years before Jefferson wrote America’s declaration, a group of Appalachians shocked the King of England and were labeled “a dangerous example for the people of America” due to their fierce independence and unwillingness to submit to any will other than their own.
That American spirit lives on in all who may fall under the title of hillbilly.
It is the strength that has built a strong country that is the beacon to all in the world that yearn to live free.
It is the original pilgrim that put God first in their lives without consideration of who likes it or does not.
Hopefully, it will be the spirit that will save the unique formula that is or was the United States of America.
To quote Hank William Jr’s song again: “We say grace and we say Ma’am, and if you ain’t into that, we don’t give a damn.”
God Bless the USA, again.
Image: Courtesy of: http://hillbillysavants.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_archive.html
Candace Hardin resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She fluent in Spanish and a student of Latin and history. She is a columnist on PolitiChicks.tv. and has a blog, kandisays.blogspot.com. Originally from North Carolina, her writing and beliefs have been heavily influenced by the Appalachian culture and tradition.