Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy 150th Birthday West Virginia

Today, all over the great state of West Virginia proud citizens celebrate our state's 150th birthday! It is amazing when I think about how young and prolific our state's history is in the grand scheme of things. My dad has been alive for almost half of our state's history. I have been alive for more than 25% of it. 

There's something wild and wonderful about the fabric and fiber of this state that brings out the best in people. West Virginians are dedicated to family, to community, and to service. We share of our surplus when others are in need. Many of us have a heritage in this state that goes back farther than its founding. Shawnee, Cherokee, Delaware, Seneca, and more, this place is home to an array of ancient American cultures. This land has been a melting pot of immigrants from around the globe. From Germany to Pakistan, from Italy to Vietnam, West Virginians are diverse but united.
In these hills, many have found a safe-haven and a source of refreshment and restoration. Sunrise to sunset, and all through the night, these lands are awake with the songs of creation. The foot paths and waterways take their time to tell stories of a different way of life and of living for all who are willing and patient enough to stop their busy-ness to attentively listen. 
West Virginians are resourceful and free. Mountaineers are always free. Montani Semper Liberi. That freedom manifests itself an a never say die attitude, a remarkable resilience in the face of overwhelming odds, and and incredible sense of self-sufficiency. West Virginians figure out a way to make do with limited resources, and are quick to lend a hand to a friend or a neighbor, whether across the road, across town, or across the globe. West Virginians have been figuring out ways to re-use and re-commission tools and resources long before there was ever a green movement.
When I think about our state, my deep affection goes out to our beautiful land. From the top of Spruce Knob to the lowest point of Harper's Ferry, from the shores of the Ohio River to the jagged spires of Seneca Rocks, from the wilderness of Dolly Sods to the roaring falls of the Blackwater, I have been captivated by it's beauty. From the flight of the cardinal to the quiet footfalls of the black bear, from the blooming of the rhododendrons to the tapping of the maple trees, these woodlands take care of us, and invite us to share in a story larger than our 150 year history.
From the time of my youth, my folks had invested in my appreciation of our relationship with these lands. We fed ourselves with food grown from the soils of this state. We caught fish and swam in West Virginia's creeks and rivers. We hiked trails along major footpaths of the state, and spent many quiet moments listening to the sounds of whispering winds and roaring waters as we traveled these ancient Appalachian byways

And here in this great state I found my bride. We were engaged three years ago today! She was raised with a passion for this wonderful place, and a zeal for Mountaineer sports! She's a West Virginia lady. Intelligent, compassionate, resourceful, faith-filled, and beautiful, she is a representation of the best of our home among these West Virginia Hills. Our wedding took place under a tree along a waterway in the middle of this state, surrounded by friends and family who share our love for God, this land, and one another. Our roots go deep in this soil, and we look forward to a bright future here in the heart of Appalachia.

Happy birthday West Virginia! Thank you so much for all of the nurture and care you have given me and my family and our 1.8 million neighbors. You have taught us to appreciate one another, to appreciate you, and even when we leave your borders, your hills embrace us and welcome us back as soon as we can make our way back. Thank you for helping me become a better son, a better friend, a better husband, and a better steward. I pray I that the years ahead find all of us constantly growing in our love and appreciation for your treasures.

O those West Virginia hills, how majestic and how grand...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

yes, billy....almost heaven, west virginia!!!!! thank God for her....we're so blessed

love you and jamie,