Thank God for Mississippi

Published 1:40 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Growing up in Louisiana, I can’t even begin to recall the number of times I said it.

“Thank God for Mississippi,” is sort of a catchall phrase for when things went bad in the Bayou State.

“Things could always be worse,” we would say. “We could be living in Mississippi.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

I remember reading list after list over the years that ranked Louisiana 49th in an array of categories, but my home state was always saved from last place by Mississippi.

In talking to my parents recently, we both lamented that we never thought I would land myself a spot in Mississippi, but here I am, growing roots of my own.

Since moving here last year, I’ve caught myself thanking God for Mississippi for different reasons.

The Hospitality State truly lives up to its name. While the South is known for its friendly people and sweet tea, I swear the smiles are bigger and the tea is sweeter here in Mississippi.

I’ve also been introduced to people who care deeply about their history and culture here in Mississippi.

From the blues music that started here to the key Civil War battle sites, the people of this state care deeply about what’s theirs.

That’s not to mention the individuals produced by this state who have made their mark on our nation: Elvis Presley, William Faulkner and B.B. King to name a few.

Now I’ve been lucky since I’ve lived in Mississippi; I’ve lived in Oxford and Vicksburg, both of which have left outstanding impressions on me.

I’ve worked as a reporter in both of these cities, and I’ve been honored to tell the stories of their people.

I think being the underdogs has taught Mississippians how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The people here are hardworking and honest.

Sure, Mississippi has some things it could work on — health, education, poverty — but to focus on the negatives would mean ignoring the positives, of which I’ve named only a few.

I truly believe that many who haven’t had the opportunity to live outside of Mississippi may not be able to fully realize the blessing this state is.

The opposite, too, is true. William Faulkner once said “To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.” A quote I’ve often marveled at, but only recently begun to understand.

While Mississippi may rank 50th on many polls, it’s earned its place as No. 1 in my heart.

Remember, home is where you make it.

Thank God for Mississippi, and thank you, God, for showing me a new perspective.

—A converted Mississippian

Austin Vining is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. Contact him at