Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


June 20, 2013

Happy 150th!

Pride in West Virginia underscores greatness of the state

— — A sunset over Pinnacle Rock State Park. Homemade dumplings on a Sunday afternoon. A comfortable “y’all” echoing through greetings and conversations. West Virginia’s lush landscapes, timeworn customs and proud people underscore all that is great about this state that was born a child of the Civil War.

Today, 150 years ago, West Virginia became a state. In the decades since, residents have weathered trials and challenges but have always maintained a fierce pride and loyalty to the Mountain State.

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.

Certainly, there are many who have moved from West Virginia with no second thoughts or regrets. For them, their days in the Mountain State are mere memories — nothing more, nothing less. But countless other transplants can not — nor will not — sever the ties or emotions that bind them to the hills of Appalachia.

And for those who continue to reside here the emotional bonds can be even stronger.

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, on this most special 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.

Today is a time to celebrate all that is wondrous about this great state. Tulip tree poplars and chestnut trees. Southern drawls and restored cars. Box turtles and raccoons visiting the backyard.

These things and more are West Virginia.

We are a state that celebrates our culture, our climate, our people and our heritage. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who call it home there is no other way of life.

Today, on West Virginia Day, take time to be thankful for that Mountaineer spirit. Take time to be a proud child of the coalfields. And make time to be humbled by the blue and gold spirit that flows through our veins.

To be a West Virginian by birth is a noble title; to be a Mountaineer by choice is an even greater accolade.

West Virginia is “almost heaven,” and always home.


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