June 20, 2015

Today We Celebrate the Values We All Share as West Virginians | Beckley Register-Herald

Every June 20, friends, families and neighbors gather together to celebrate West Virginia Day — a holiday dedicated to our statehood. On this special anniversary, we recognize our exceptional history, unique culture and strong traditions.

But most importantly, today we are distinctly unified in the profound pride that comes with being a West Virginian. As our beautiful state turns 152, may we all come together today to say, “I’m proud to be a West Virginian.”

Our state has a one-of-a-kind history. Born out of the turmoil of the Civil War, West Virginia was founded by patriots who were willing to risk their lives for freedom and justice for all. I’ve always said that the best steel comes from the hottest fire, and the fires of the Civil War transformed West Virginia into a strong, resilient state.

West Virginia’s sense of patriotism runs deep and true, and our motto, “Mountaineers are Always Free,” is a testament to our bold determination to forge our own path.

West Virginia’s awe-inspiring landscape makes it undoubtedly the most beautiful state in the nation. Residents and tourists alike enjoy endless opportunities to climb mountains, fish streams, hunt in forests, raft rapids and walk trails. From the beautiful Blackwater Falls to the magnificent New River Gorge Bridge and every back road and countryside in between, West Virginia’s to American society. Our culture can be felt in our handmade creations; heard in our mountain music; and enjoyed in our unique cuisine, from pepperoni rolls to wild ramps and buckwheat cakes with sausage.

It is within these rugged borders that we created the steamboat, iron furnace, electric railroad, glass plant and pottery plant.

It was West Virginia coal miners who mined the coal that fueled the industrialization of America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, making us what we remain today — the richest and most powerful nation in history.

It is here that many important American figures hold their humble roots, including Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck, educational leader Booker T. Washington, Mother’s Day founder Anna Jarvis and Brigadier Gen. Charles “Chuck” Yeager.

Above all else, today we celebrate the values all of us share as West Virginians. Again and again, I am inspired by West Virginians’ devotion to family, their love of country, their belief in hard work and sacrifice, and their undeniable spirit to weather any storm by coming together. When things get tough, we get tougher. And like the brave, loyal patriots who founded our state, our love of God, country, family and state are unshakable.

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “The sun does not always shine in West Virginia but the people always do.” I could not say it better myself. West Virginians are truly the salt of the earth. And for me, it is our residents and our camaraderie that has always been the most important reason to celebrate West Virginia Day.

All of us have a part in West Virginia’s story, and on this 152nd anniversary, I encourage all West Virginians to celebrate the many reasons our state is special.

By:  Sen. Joe Manchin