ON Sunday, the nation watched West Virginians hold two funerals. One was for a young man who died before he found his place in life, and the other for a grandfather who took up the badge and stood up against the pill mills and prescription drug abuse in his hometown.
Four days after a gunman shot and killed Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, hundreds of his friends, family and neighbors - and 300 law enforcement officers from several states - packed Mingo Central High in Delbarton for his funeral.
It was a solemn occasion, befitting a man who gave up a comfortable position as a magistrate to run for sheriff because prescription drug abuse was killing Mingo County.
Last August, before the election, the prosecutor appointed him as a special investigator for drug enforcement.
On Eugene Crum's short watch as sheriff, the county saw 57 felony convictions - with more on the way. The county had more indictments in three months under Crum than it had in the previous eight years.
"We ask all the time: Where have all the heroes gone?" Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury said during his eulogy. "Let me tell you, sometimes we walk in their midst and we don't know we got them. He was mine."
Officials have yet to determine whether his assassination was payback for his fight to end the scourge of prescription drug abuse in his county, or whether the suspect selected him randomly.
But one thing is clear: His fight will go on. The county commission appointed his widow, Rosie Crum, as his successor.
In Charleston, services were held for Shain Gandee, 21, a star on the "Buckwild" show on MTV, who died earlier of carbon monoxide poisoning after the tailpipe of the vehicle in which he was riding got buried in mud.
Many people nationwide identified with this likeable, fun-loving young man whose life ended much too soon.
People throughout the nation and beyond saw the real West Virginia that a "reality show" cannot not depict, because reality is seldom as interesting as TV. A sheriff eating his lunch in his vehicle while keeping an eye on a suspected pill mill is dull - but important.
The real West Virginia is men and women mourning on Sunday those who died too young - and on Monday picking up the fight faced by those whose struggles are over.