It's not who we are
by Emily Dilbeck
For now, I’ll tell you a story about history, my history and your history, the history of a lot of us actually. It’s about East Polk and West Polk, and how I’ll never say “above” or “below” the mountain again.
I’ve told you that my family is from here, but I grew up in Chattanooga, and before that Knoxville. The only time I lived in Polk County was when I was a child, and to be honest I don’t remember it very much. Until this year I didn’t even know Benton existed, and Turtletown and Ducktown were just my weekend homes where I visited my dad and grandparents.
Since coming back, I’ve developed a love for Polk County that rivals any of the connections I’ve had with the other cities I’ve lived in. To me, Polk County is a whole place, not one side, or the other, and it’s Polk County as a whole I want to write about, not above or below.
Above and below are directions we drive. It’s my commute to work, and the way the river flows. It’s 64, and that’s about it. What it shouldn’t be is two mentalities so set against each other it’s made me cry.
Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it. In the past several weeks I’ve cried tears of frustration and anger, sadness and total despair. All because I, and this entire county, have been pulled one way and the other by age-old grudges and hatreds that could easily be forgotten.
People from all over tell me it simply can’t be done. That we’ll never be “Polk County”, we’ll always be “above” and “below” and I might as well accept that. They call it my naiveté, the fact that I actually have this hope that we can get along and achieve something more for our county.
A relative told me the other day that a political candidate hadn’t spoken to me because “he didn’t know who I was, he just knew I worked for the Polk County News”. That idea disgusts me. I work for the paper. I work in facts and truths and statements, and my name, my family, the town my home is located in don’t matter at all.
I am not voting in this election, and maybe that will show you something. I have every right to do so, and I was so excited to be able to vote, since this would be my first election. But I’ll stay my vote in this local election. Maybe this won’t mean anything to you, but to me it’s a sort of cleansing.
I am no longer Emily. I am not a Dilbeck, I am not from above the mountain, and I don’t work below. What I am is the reporter from the Polk County News, and I’ll give every citizen of Polk County the same treatment, regardless of where they’re from. I hope you can learn to do the same.
Polk County News | P.O.
Box 129 | 3 Main Street | Benton TN 37307
phone: 423-338-2818 | fax: 423-338-4574 | email
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