Friday, June 5, 2015

Small State, Big Heart

I know a lot of people don't understand how things in a small state work. Coming from Pennsylvania, I know I didn't. Delaware is intimate. By that I mean that everyone knows everyone. You are one degree removed from every other Delawarean. In some ways the state of Delaware seems smaller than Lancaster County. We have three counties here, the most populated being New Castle County where we live.  Delaware also includes Sussex and Kent Counties. I'm not sure what goes on in the county level government when the state is so small. That is something I want to investigate. Contrary to PA, Delaware cuts out the middle man of the county level wherever it can. It also makes for better streamlining of services. For instance, we have DELJIS which is the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System. This is state wide and provides timely shared knowledge of anything that goes on in law enforcement/courts throughout the state of Delaware. This is unlike Pennsylvania in which county systems are in place and may vary from one county to another.

Another thought that comes up: Mark and I wonder what it would have been like running at the Delaware State Meet for track and field in high school.  Our district meet in Pennsylvania (maybe even our 2-county "county meet") was bigger than the whole state contest here. Do they even have county meets in Delaware? How hard is it to qualify for the State Meet? It's fun to be a big fish in a small pond. A year and a half ago, Mark and I walked across the state of Delaware at its middle. It's fun to brag that you've walked across an entire state. It only took us four hours.

Being a small, closely knit state, this also means that people band together in good times and bad. The recent death of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden is an example. Everywhere I go, people I know are recounting their experiences with the politician and his father, Vice President Joe Biden. (Joe Biden lived in Arden in his youth. Occasionally and without fanfare, he passes through here and wanders into Gild Hall to see the old place.) The shock and mourning for Beau are real. And it isn't just about the traffic headaches that this funeral is causing in Wilmington. People remember young Senator Joe Biden taking the train home every night from D.C. to be with his young sons, survivors in the automobile accident which killed Biden's wife and daughter. They remember Beau's service to this country when he went to Iraq as a Major in the National Guard. We had high hopes that he would become Governor one day. Many examples show just how the Bidens care about the people of Delaware, and the feeling is mutual.

I must admit that I feel a bit like an in-law at this Delaware Family Reunion. I haven't been with the family very long. But the standoffishness is on our part. Delaware has been a welcoming family and has claimed us as their own. Maybe we will never rise to favorite son status or have the kind of funeral that closes roads, but we are slowly making our own web of friends and acquaintances. A small eco-system. One of its state nicknames is the Small Wonder. I agree, and I am happy to call it home.

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