Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy 152nd Birthday West Virginia, You Are Amazing!

WV Flag and Seal
Today is a very special day. Not only is it the 152nd birthday of the 35th state, but it is also the last day of spring. Every year I spend here in almost heaven, I find more and more reasons to love this state. From its people to its amazing natural beauty, there is much to cherish. West Virginia joined the union by Presidential decree on June 20, 1863, and it is the only state created by that process. Thank you Mr. Lincoln!
Germany Valley view from Seneca Rocks
 And thank you God, for letting me be born in a place with so much natural beauty. My parents instilled a love for the created world from a young age, and I still think back fondly to trips we took to places like Cass Scenic Railroad, Blackwater Falls, and many journeys to the summit of Seneca Rocks to look down on the Germany Valley as the sun slowly made its way behind these majestic West Virginia hills.

Hallé enjoying the Morgantown Farmer's Market
For me, West Virginia is not only a celebration of this great state, but also I've been able to make some additional memories tied to this day. For one, it's my friend Hallé Zakowski's birthday too. Hallé grew up in Ohio, but being born on June 20th, I think it must have been fated that she and her family would have so much love for West Virginia. She actually drove to Morgantown this weekend to ensure that she was celebrating her birthday on the terra firma of West Virginia.
The most important West Virginia Day memory I can remember happened in 2010. It was Father's Day, I had just shared a message at a friend of mine's church about Nuru and why I decided to join the fight to end extreme poverty. After church, I drove to Lake Floyd, West Virginia, and proceeded to row a boat to the middle of the lake, dropped on a knee and asked Jamie to marry me. Thankfully she said yes!

Me and Jamie at Harper's Ferry visiting friends in 2011.
And now, as I write and think back to all that has happened in our lives, I'm filled with gratitude. Gratitude that we get to explore this state together. Grateful that we have stood atop Spruce Knob (highest point) as well as Harper's Ferry (lowest point), and watched the sun rise and set on West Virginia's hills and rivers from many vantage points. We have cheered on the Mountaineers, hiked along trails and sought to cherish every moment we have with each other in this amazing place.
Montani semper liberi! Thank you, West Virginia, for the memories you have given to us and to all who take the time to sit, hike, run, walk, bike, or relax for a spell in these majestic and grand West Virginia hills.

May we always treasure our mountain home, the memories we make, and the best aspects of our heritage as Appalachian people.

Mountaineer Field and the Pride of West Virginia, the Mountaineer Marching Band
If you are so fortunate as to live in West Virginia, make sure you get out and celebrate. And, if not, come visit sometime, but make sure you care well for our home among these hills.

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