Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Birthday West Virginia

Yesterday, my home state celebrated its 151st birthday. West Virginia was born during the height of the civil war on June 20, 1863, and many believe its formation helped turn the tide of the war toward the union. Being born during a time of heavy conflict must have been hard on the folks who were here, but the 35th state presses onward. It is the only state created by Presidential Proclamation, so we, the people of West Virginia owe much to President Lincoln.

As I write this I'm sitting in the home of two other West Virginians who are currently living in Colorado (another beautiful state). It's fun to reflect on the fact that John Denver wrote songs about Colorado and West Virginia as I'm sitting here too!

I love my state. I love watching the cardinal (our state bird) when it flies among the sugar maple (our state tree) and the rhododendron (our state flower). In fact Jamie and I have a rhododendron that flowers each spring in front of our home.

My family has called West Virginia home for as long as we have had a family history. Long before our state became a state, we have called this our home, and perhaps that is why my parents instilled such a deep love for this place in my heart.

I can remember taking trips as a kid to places like Cooper's Rock in Morgantown or traveling through Pipestem near Princeton. In high school, college, and beyond, many were the trips toward Elkins, Davis, Thomas, and places like Blackwater Falls, Canaan Valley, and Hawks Nest. And nearer to home, I can remember many days of riding my bike along the Ohio River, or going fishing at Mountwood Park with my dad, my uncle, and my cousins. We used to picnic on Sunday afternoons and all of us kids would rush off into the woods to explore, or into the creeks to catch crawfish.

And the people of our state, while we have an array of challenges before us, we also have an attitude of never giving up. Our state motto, montani simper liberi (mountaineers are always free), is one that I have often taken to speak toward not just our love of freedom, but of our willingness to persevere in adversity.

And so as our beautiful state grows another year older, I'm hopeful of her future, and I look forward to savoring many more moments walking along her forest paths, fishing in her rivers, and working hard toward an ever brighter future among these beautiful hills. Happy birthday West Virginia!

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