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By Staff | Jun 13, 2011

West Virginia may be a small state, but our impact on this nation’s history and its future is far greater than the size of our geography or our population.

This June 20, as on every June 20, the people of the great state of West Virginia will once again celebrate the day that our state became the 35th state admitted into the Union. In 1927, the Legislature made June 20 an official state holiday, and for each and every West Virginian it has become a day to reflect on the contributions that our great state and our great people have made to this nation.

And, as we face generational challenges today, our strong past will once prove that this state and this country can overcome any hardship.

The Mountain State was born out of the turmoil of the Civil War and is the only state to have been formed by presidential proclamation. We were founded by patriots who shared a united pursuit for justice and freedom for all.

The stories of our cities and towns are reminders of that incredible beginning. Harpers Ferry was a strategic federal armory during the Civil War and is the site of John Brown’s famous abolitionist raid. Wheeling was the site of the First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia, and is the location where our state’s name was chosen.

Since our historic beginning, our lands and vast natural resources have helped build this nation. Our people’s hard work, sacrifices, and patriotism have helped make our nation stronger and safer. From the mining of the coal that powers our cities, to the forging of the steel that is the backbone of our skyscrapers and our military, we have done and continue to do the heavy lifting that has built America.

Throughout my 20 years of public service, I have been fortunate beyond words to serve the great people of West Virginia. The bedrock values that I learned growing up in West Virginia — those of hard work, sacrifice, and a desire to provide a better quality of life for our families — are the ones that inspire my service to this state today.

Growing up in West Virginia, I learned this: when things are tough, we don’t back down. When we’re having trouble paying our bills, we don’t think of spending more money; when we face difficult times, we work together to make things better. When faced with a problem, we don’t avoid what needs to be done, we try to solve it. This is what West Virginians would call common sense.

Again and again, I have been inspired by West Virginians’ devotion to family, their love of country, their belief in hard work and sacrifice, and above all their undeniable spirit to weather any storm by coming together.

I have seen our state endure its most devastating challenges horrific flooding and tragic mining accidents and I’ve seen our state in the best of times. But at all times, the spirit of West Virginia has never been broken. It is this spirit of working together and finding commonsense solutions to any challenge that inspires me.

Today, we must take those lessons and apply them to the great challenges that we face and that we must confront for our children and grandchildren. We must get our debt under control. We must keep our promises to seniors and veterans. We must develop a national energy policy that ends our dependence on foreign oil within this generation. We must rebuild our nation and focus on creating jobs.

West Virginia Day allows us the opportunity to learn from the countless leaders and laborers who have paved the way for the future generations. We have many reasons to be proud of our beautiful state, its kind and compassionate people, majestic landscapes, rich culture and fascinating history. All of us have a part in West Virginia’s amazing story, and on West Virginia day, we must take the opportunity to imagine the future of this great state and this nation and be proud of how far we’ve come and how far we will go.