A West Virginia Day of Remembrance and Thanks

Every June 20th, West Virginians come together to celebrate the day our beloved Mountain State became our country’s 35th state.

It’s a day that unites all of us because of our shared history and proud traditions. West Virginians share a deep sense of pride for what it means to call this place home. And this year, we are especially proud as our state turns 154, and as we look back on the year that has passed since devastating floods tested – but did not defeat – our spirit and strength.

The State of West Virginia was founded during the Civil War by patriots who were willing to risk their lives in a united pursuit of justice and freedom. Since our state was forged through the fire of our nation’s Civil War, Mountaineers have stepped forward for causes greater than themselves – for love of family, for protection of our nation, and for fierce devotion to our state and its people. West Virginians have always abandoned the status quo to fight for what is right. Today, this proud lineage continues through West Virginians who work hard every day – and who always, without question, help one another.

Mountaineers inspire me every day, with a powerful spirit of giving that made us who we are – and has been the driving force that carried us out of last year’s flooding and toward a stronger tomorrow.

On this West Virginia Day, I am profoundly grateful to the countless volunteers and neighbors who have lifted up their fellow West Virginians over the past 12 months.

Last June, we lost 23 of our own. Families were devastated. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. Children lost their schools. Communities were shaken to their core.

But, as we do in times of challenge and trial, West Virginians bounded strongly together – because that’s just who we are.

Local fire halls and churches were food pantries and safe havens. First responders and National Guard members, as they always are, were heroes. And West Virginians from all backgrounds and corners of the state were organizers, ambassadors and philanthropists.

From the high school students who built tiny homes for flood survivors to the volunteers who cleaned out homes, those who delivered food and water in a time of great need, and the neighbors who never forgot one another, the meaning of “West Virginian” is now more deeply carved in stone.

“West Virginian” means open, giving hands. It means casseroles and phone calls. It means tears of shared joy and sorrow. It means friendly waves and encouraging friendships. It means faith and conviction in the face of loss and adversity.

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, “The sun does not always shine in West Virginia but the people always do.” Last year at this time, the sun wasn’t shining – but as the floodwaters receded, our spirit would shine once again.

On West Virginia’s 154th birthday, we celebrate the remarkable spirit of selflessness that defines our cherished state, has carried us out of heartache – and will keep us forever closely-knit, and proud, and grateful.

Submitted By: Senator Joe Manchin

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