Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

June 23, 2013

Fireworks and accolades appropriate on West Virginia’s big birthday

— There was cake and bell ringing. Accolades and celebration. Fireworks and concerts. Well wishes were given by those near and far. It was an appropriate commemoration of a 150th birthday. And one well earned and well deserved by the great state of West Virginia.

The Mountain State celebrated the big day last Thursday. Events to honor the occasion were held from Wheeling to Princeton, and all points in between. Current residents and former Mountaineers paid their respects.

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Growing up, West Virginia Day was always a big deal in our home — perhaps, in part, because June 20 was also my grandfather’s birthday. He was coal miner. A gardener. A true friend and good neighbor. And he was proud to have been born on the date that West Virginia gained her statehood.

As the date approached on the calendar, he never talked about his own birth. Instead, he would speak of the Mountain State with pride. He would share stories of her history, and little-known facts and trivia.

At a young age we learned to respect the date on the calendar and the importance of paying homage to our home state, our birth place, West Virginia.

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Two sips of coffee and a tap on the blue bird. Opening the social networking site pre-6 a.m., I was greeted with a explosion of blue-and-gold pride.

More than 90 percent of the tweets were birthday wishes to West Virginia. Some were from those born and raised here; others came from adopted children. But on this day it did not matter if one had resided in the Mountain State for a lifetime or one month, the sentiment was the same. All were proud to have roots and ties to the state born of conflict during the Civil War.

While most messages contained simple birthday greetings, others waxed poetically on West Virginia’s finer points — her landscapes, her culture, her people. One of my favorite tweets, however, put a modern spin on the century-and-a-half-old state split. “Hey Virginia, I’m just not that into you. Signed, West Virginia, 1863.

(Apologies to our friends in the Commonwealth.)

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The pride in West Virginia shown last Thursday spurred thoughts of my favorite things about this great state. I consider myself fortunate to have run barefoot through her green hills as a child; blessed to have grown up with her hardwood forests as my neighbors.

But what do I love most about the Mountain State?

• Buttercups and daisies blooming in open fields

• Homemade chicken and dumplings on a cool Sunday afternoon

• A giant four-leafed clover plucked from no-man’s land — the overgrown space between well-groomed yards and green forests

• The sound of “y’all,” spoken with a true southern accent

• Fireworks (purchased out of state) exploding over the backyard on the Fourth of July

• Hot dogs, with cole slaw

• Target shooting in the yard

• A great blue heron standing in the Bluestone River shrouded by early-morning fog

• The sight of an elderly woman stringing freshly-picked green beans

• Lightning bugs brightening the landscape on a warm summer’s evening

West Virginia has many things to offer, but her finest qualities may come in the small details — the everyday sights, sounds and smells that warm the heart and remind us of beautiful childhoods and days spent in a cocoon of country comfort.

Happy birthday West Virginia! May the next 150 years be as heartwarming and special as the first century and a half.

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Last Friday, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph staff said a sad farewell to publisher Darryl Hudson, who is leaving the newspaper to pursue a career opportunity at a publication in Rockford, Ill.

Darryl began his tenure as publisher of the newspaper in March of 2010, but it was his second go-round as a Bluefield resident and employee of the Daily Telegraph. He previously lived in Bluefield from 1976-88, during which time he was a Bluefield State College student and worked at various businesses including Leggett in downtown Bluefield, and Andres and Long John Silver’s on Cumberland Road.

He started his newspaper career at the Daily Telegraph in 1987 as a circulation district manager, and was named controller for the newspaper the next year. He later became a corporate controller for Thomson Newspapers.

Although Darryl is a business and finance wizard, he is also a tech and web guru. With his leadership the newspaper launched many new multi-media products, including BDTVideo, BDTBlitz and BDTBounce.

Personally, Darryl has been a great friend, and I will miss our talks about politics, elections and local news events. I will also miss listening to in-depth “Star Trek” and “Superman” discussions coming from the newsroom, as Darryl, Charles Owens and Greg Jordan raved about a recent movie release.

The loss of Darryl and his family will leave a void in our community, but we wish them well in their future endeavors.

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.

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