West Virginia, 150 years of freedom

West Virginians are a determined, strong, hard-working sort of folk. From its southern coalfields to the northern steel mills and everywhere in between, we give it our all no matter the task.

We are the people of a state born in conflict, facing numerous battles and difficulties throughout our history, and we are better for it.

Today is a day we celebrate that storied history, our state itself, and especially our people.

Exactly 150 years ago today, years of struggle and hardships beginning with the start of the American Civil War, reached a conclusion when West Virginia officially was declared a state and joined the Union.

In today’s edition, you also will find a special supplement looking back at some of the people from our area who played a role in the creation of West Virginia and its early forms of government.

From the construction of the Panhandle Railroad Bridge to the participation of the Rev. Joseph Pomeroy and James Hervey in the constitutional conventions, there are many important stories from West Virginia’s early days we should all hold on to and pass down to future generations. We must remember that Campbell Tarr, from Wellsburg, served as West Virginia’s first treasurer, for example, the role of Wheeling in the state’s founding, the years-long process of how we came to be, and the people who have shaped us ever since.

The influence of the Mountain State and its people has reached far beyond its borders. It is felt not only along the Ohio River Valley or in the mountain ranges of Appalachia, but all across the country, whether by native West Virginians who have taken our hard-working mentality with them, or by those who have heard the music of Kathy Mattea or Brad Paisley, enjoyed the comedic work of Don Knotts, celebrated Mother’s Day – a holiday created by Grafton resident Anna Jarvis – traveled along a brick road, read the works of Pearl S. Buck, took up the game of golf because of Sam Snead, attended a 4-H camp or eaten a pepperoni roll.

We continue to stare down adversity and show pride in our home state, its natural beauty, and, most importantly, its people.

We are a people who have stepped forward the protect our nation and the world. We welcome strangers with open arms and make them feel at home. We proudly display our history and culture for all to see.

We celebrate our state each and every day, but especially today as we mark this special occasion of our sesquicentennial. There will be festivities far and wide, and we encourage everyone to enjoy them and remember what makes West Virginia “Almost Heaven.”

Today, we join with all West Virginians, wherever they may be, in wishing our Mountain State a happy 150th birthday. Montani Semper Liberi.