History’s role in our everyday lives

In today’s society, change happens quickly – it is a time of progress, innovation and discovery. Consider your smartphone. You can browse the web, text your family and friends, tweet or even post photos to Instagram instantaneously. Every day, new technologies are being developed, cutting edge fields are being explored and we continue to press on in search of new frontiers.

Too often, we define ourselves in terms of who we are right now or who we will be sometime in the future. While the present and future are both extremely important, we must also look to our past to fully understand who we are and where we come from.

This week, the State Capitol hosted hundreds of exceptional eighth grade students from across the state for the West Virginia History Bowl and the Golden Horseshoe awards. These students, along with many of their classmates, have spent countless hours studying West Virginia. It is my hope they remember what they have learned about the Mountain State and find a new appreciation for the fascinating stories found throughout our state.

History has a way of connecting us to our families, friends and the communities we call home. West Virginia was built by men and women from around the world, and from them, we’ve gathered stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. These stories speak volumes to our culture, history and heritage-the things that make us all unique.

I have been a gardener all of my life. In fact, my entire family took part in the tremendously hard, but richly rewarding process of canning. Every year, our kitchen turned into what looked like a food factory as we canned our garden’s harvest. We stocked up on tomatoes, beans and potatoes for the winter months. Gardening is one of my most favorite family memories. For you, it might be a connection you make during your family travels on our scenic highways, through our small towns, or at our state parks. What’s important is that we each find and hold on to these memories – as these are the connections that tie us to our past.

I encourage you to pause and consider what history means to you. Take time to sit down with your loved ones and share a favorite family story or tradition-share your memories with the younger generations in your family. Or better yet, start a new tradition that’s special in its own way. I think you’ll agree – our state’s unique past and your family’s traditions are more than photos in an album or facts on a page. They are the things that help us to know who we are and are the foundation of the stories and traditions we will someday share.