Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


June 20, 2014

Happy birthday, W.Va.!: Pride in the Mountain State

— — The only state born of the American Civil War, West Virginia, turns 151 years old today. From a tumultuous beginning, the Mountain State has navigated through success and scandal, storms and droughts, war and peace, boom and bust.

The natural beauty of the state, the riches of resources that lie below ground, and the desires of West Virginians to strive for “a more perfect union,” all are attributes that should be cherished and leveraged to keep us headed along the long, long road to eventual prosperity and contentment.

There is no simple adjective or succinct phrase that can adequately describe what makes West Virginia special. But there is a unique quality about the state that becomes ingrained in the hearts, minds and spirits of those who call it home — whether they’re current residents or those whose long-ago ties to the state remain strong.

We are a state that has won awards for the pure quality of our mountain streams. We are also a state that must deal more strongly with those who pollute those streams and larger rivers.

We are a state with hundreds of miles of ATV networks, of hiking trails and of state parks and forests. We are also a state that has for too long downplayed the economic potential of inviting visitors into our territory to see its amazing scenery and learn its fascinating history.

We are a state that builds and maintains roads, runs colleges and takes care of those in need. We are also a state that needs to find ways to put adequate money into these important functions of government.

We are a state that speaks its mind boldly about public policy. We are also a state that had an embarrassingly low turnout in its primary election last month.

We may become aggravated due to problems within the state — and gripe about the need for more jobs, better roads, drug problems and other ills — but that does not lessen the Mountaineer pride. It’s much easier to endure bad times when residents have a deep passion for the positive attributes that make this state wonderful.

Today, in recognition of West Virginia’s 151st birthday, it is an appropriate time to reflect on how fortunate we are to be a part of this most special place — to appreciate the beautiful landscapes, good people, rich history and sense of pride in our heritage many people across the globe never experience.

There is much work to do, but Mountaineers are used to work. We remain hopeful that when West Virginia turns 152 years old, we will have turned the corner on some of those complex problems before us.

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