You know what makes small-town America unique?
Besides the obvious answer that almost everyone knows their neighbors, is the resilience that lies within the boundaries of villages and cities like Mount Gilead, Cardington, Galion, Marengo, as well as dozens of others in Ohio and thousands across the nation.
This resolve was tested by COVID-19 over the past several months. And it was tested repeatedly.
First, school districts had to deal with the virus and its impact on commencement. Local schools devised creative ways to honor their students and virtual graduation ceremonies sprung up all around. Seniors, some sporting masks, received their diplomas.
On Memorial Day folks found ways to hold observations. albeit in limited numbers.
The significance was no less even though the attendance may have been fewer. We still managed to honor those men and women lost in war.
Then came summer and county fairs and festivals, staples of most small communities.
As I write this Morrow County is working on having a version of the Junior Fair later this summer. Details are being finalized, but the important thing here is they didn’t give up.
In the face of adversity, small towns seem to find ways to get things done. Another case in point is the fireworks held this weekend in Mount Gilead and the previous week in Cardington.
Galion also had a Fourth of July celebration and even added a high school baseball game on our nation’s birthday. Crawford County is going ahead with its fair set for July 20-26.
In Mount Gilead the village took the lead and asked for help — and boy, did it receive plenty. Donations poured in after the mayor asked for some cash to help offset the cost of the fireworks display.
That sort of innovation is commendable — and rare — today. At a time when people often look to do less and excuse it away due to lack of interest or insufficient funds, the opposite happened here.
Local residents also refused to allow the pandemic to spoil the rituals of summer. Hot dogs and burgers were grilled, fireworks were lit (using social distancing practices) and modified events like fairs are being planned.
This makes me smile. And not much today has that effect.
When I see people come together to make positive things happen it reinforces my belief in the human spirit and our ingenuity.
That has been evidenced since March when the coronavirus changed our world and our lives quickly and forever. But just as quickly, local leaders and regular Joes and Sallys sprang into action.
Is it perfect? No.
It is worth celebrating and commending? You bet it is.
That’s what makes America great and small towns even greater still.
We refuse to let circumstances stop us or define us. We find ways around things and use our collective talents to bolster a community effort, thus making it a richer experience for all.
Well done, north central Ohio communities. Enjoy the rest of your summer.