BUCKHANNON — Local pride in the Mountain State is heightened each year as we celebrate West Virginia Day on June 20. The public holiday commemorates the date that West Virginia was admitted to the Union and became a member of the United States in 1863.
While we should all consider ourselves fortunate to regularly enjoy the natural beauty of our home among the hills, take this day to appreciate the splendor of West Virginia on her 157th birthday. Many area events and celebrations may be canceled due to present circumstances, but don’t let that stop you from visiting one of the countless area attractions offered in the great outdoors.
Local lady Linda Hicks thoughtfully displayed her poem, “A Tribute to West Virginia” adorned with a hand-painted border on a Main Street storefront to commemorate West Virginia Day. Hicks explained, “One summer afternoon, I was sitting on my porch wishing I was at the beach. Then I noticed the hay field in front of me and how the hay seemed to be in motion like the ocean’s waves. It brought a beautiful sense of peacefulness to me. Then I began thinking of all the everyday wonders right here in West Virginia, and how we sometimes take them for granted. It truly is a time to give thanks for living in Almost Heaven.”
Here are some interesting facts to further appreciate wild and wonderful West Virginia, according to timeanddate.com. “West Virginia is largely mountainous and was largely dense woodland. Before European explorers arrived, the area was a hunting ground for a range of Native American peoples and many ancient mounds are found. It is thought that the first European explorers arrived in the area in 1671 and the European settlement started around 1725. The modern state of West Virginia was created out of part of the British Virginia Colony, which became the state of Virginia.
“The Blue Mountains form an impressive physical barrier between east and west in the area, particularly before the advent of motorized transport. This barrier was emphasized by different groups of European settlers that colonized the areas to the east and west of these mountains. During the early days of the state, there were some disagreements over the amount of funds allocated to development projects in the state's western and the eastern parts.
“During the American Civil War, Virginia became sharply divided over if it should leave the United States and join the Confederate States. As a result of this and the early political and social divisions, 50 counties separated from Virginia and the state of West Virginia was created. On April 20, 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed that West Virginia would be admitted to the United States as a separate state 60 days later. On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became a member of the Union. From 1864, West Virginia Day was celebrated informally and became a state holiday in 1927. If June 20 falls on a Sunday, West Virginia Day is observed on Monday June 21.
“The state seal of West Virginia depicts two crossed rifles and a Phrygian or Liberty cap, representing the importance of fighting for liberty, in front of a boulder. A farmer with an ax and plow, representing agriculture, and a miner with a pickax, anvil and sledgehammer, representing industry, stand next to the boulder, which is inscribed with the date West Virginia, became a state: June 20, 1863. These images are surrounded by a ring with the words “State of West Virginia” and “Montani Semper Liberi” (Mountaineers Are Always Free), which is the state motto.
“The state flag consists of a white background, representing purity, with a dark blue border symbolizing the United States. The image at the flag’s center consists of similar elements to the state seal surrounded by the rhododendron, the state flower. Other symbols of West Virginia include: the cardinal (state bird); the sugar maple (state tree); the black bear (state animal); and the Golden Delicious apple (state fruit).”