Sept. 18 letters to the editor

A most deserved honor
for WVU great, No. 44
It was a wonderful honor for Jerry West to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and great to hear what West Virginians like myself are very familiar with — Jerome Alan West’s story of building great triumph from the tragedy of incredible poverty in his early years in Chelyan.
The story of his relationships, professional as well as personal, with a diversity of Americans, the melting pot of migrants of every race, ethnicity and religion, and the descendants of former slaves that have helped make our nation great, probably didn’t resonate with “45,” but that is to be expected.
It was telling that although some supporters of the incredible man that is Jerry West recommended he not accept this award from the current occupant of the White House, myself included, nevertheless we can all come together and agree that it is a most deserved honor for No. 44.
And perchance it is extremely possible that West’s speech purposely, but also in a very subtle way, appealed to the president’s most vociferous supporters that this Medal of Freedom reflects “the better angels of our nature” as President Lincoln once expressed.
The award is color blind as well as nonpartisan but West went out of his way to mention some notable heroes in American history that have received this award, great men whose vision of America as a land of equal opportunity and justice, men that Donald Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn, Sen. Joe McCarthy’s right-hand man, and no doubt the “45th” himself has and continues to denigrate.
West specifically mentioned civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, who worked decades to give fruit and vegetable harvesters a decent wage and other benefits, but in Trump’s eyes he represents yet another migrant criminal and illegal drain on our economy.
If the union organizer who worked West Virginia coal fields in the early 1900s, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, was here today she would applaud West’s remarks to Trump, “Give ‘em hell, Jerry!”
Jeffrey W. Mason
Washington, D.C.

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