FOCUS: Welcome to 2021 – Aspire to Inspire

We are now in the first week of a new year.  Not one person can tell you what to expect for the coming year.  We, as a nation and a world, have faced many issues that were not expected and we have lost many wonderful people who faced the dreaded word, Coronavirus.  The United States election has been a source of news that some are happy about and some are not happy.  After January 20th, maybe our nation can get on with the new year.  My prayer is for our nation to be more involved in communication with each other and to make choices that work for the good of America. 

I like to read through my January columns each year to see what has changed.  As I read through the article of 2015, America was facing anger and unrest.  I looked over several of the other New Year Focus articles and each year has had various periods where our country was at odds, in war, upset with our leaders and had difficulty facing issues within our states and communities.  This past year of 2020 has been the most disruptive year that many can remember.  The Coronavirus Pandemic is still with us and many more are still getting the virus and passing it on to others.  Families are losing their small businesses because of the required closings and our children have not been in school much of the time.  If ever there was a time for prayer, it is now.  Let us come together in love to make 2021 a better year. Let us look for ways to spread hope, joy and peace to each other. Let us aspire to inspire.

When I am perplexed, I like to go to the dictionary for some words of encouragement.  What can make a difference in dealing with our daily lives?  I looked up two words and wish to share them with you.  Aspire… To aspire is to have an earnest desire or ambition for something or to do something.  Inspire…. To inspire is to hope to create, to direct or guide; to provide inspiration.  To have inspiration is to have the infusion or arousal within the mind of an idea, feeling, or impulse that can lead to creative action.  The action can fulfill the inspiration by one person, a few people or a team of many.  Ideas and good deeds come from those who are inspired by a thought or deed that can create something special.  We, as Americans, can aspire to inspire those around us. I know some folks who have ideas and then find ways to make them come true.  This inspiration has happened right here in Buckhannon, Upshur County, West Virginia, the United States and the World.  Let me share this story which is about to begin right here in our community.

For those who are not yet aware of what is about to take place, remember this word WAMSB.  The World Association of Marching Show Bands has notified the city of Buckhannon that our community has been selected over a host of other competing nations to be the place for this international competition in July of 2023. This is only the second place in the United States that has been awarded this honor. How do I connect this project with the words aspire and inspire?  If one is aspired to see something special take place, then that person can inspire others to dream along. 

This is what Brad Kellison and Lee Winter aspired to do.  Both men have worked with bands all over the United States and other countries. Brad and Lee have built relationships with directors everywhere. They have booked and made arrangements with many bands to travel to Buckhannon for the Strawberry Festival over the last several years.  Lee has made many contacts through his involvement with the Mummers in his area. These two men know how special Buckhannon is.  They had faith that Buckhannon could be just the right place for the WAMSB competition because groups they worked with have traveled here from other countries more than one time. They knew what brought groups here.  These two men decided to see if there were others who felt the same way and thought our leaders might want to help bring this event to Buckhannon.

The City of Buckhannon was contacted to see if the City Council of Buckhannon wanted to pursue this adventure. The City Council approved the opportunity to send in a bid.  The bid was created for entry for 2023 by City Recorder Randy Sanders. After much preparation and contacts with key members who would work on this project, Randy sent the bid in to the Board of Directors of WAMSB.  On January 1 of 2021, the Board of Directors of WAMSB notified Randy Sanders and City Council that the bid from Buckhannon, West Virginia, U.S.A. is the chosen bid for the location to host the 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands Competition.  This international competition will showcase bands from all over the world.  Buckhannon will welcome visitors from countries that will love our community and will take home memories to last a lifetime. Buckhannon will now be known all over the world.  This is a celebration for all who live here in this special community. 

Many folks ask, “Why do bands come to Buckhannon and make return trips?”  I can answer this question.  The bands come here because we care for them.  Our volunteers from many of the festivals over the years have become lasting friends with bands who have visited here.  The one thing I have always heard from band members, band parents and directors is “We love to come to Buckhannon.”  “The people of your community are so friendly and nice to us.”  “We feel free to walk to the many places we need to be.”  “You always make us feel welcome and special.” “You are always organized for the large groups that come and you stay in touch with us during the time we are there until the time we get home.”  “You treat us like family, and this means so much to those who are coming to a place they have never visited.”  “Your town has a college which gives our students some great experiences for the time they will be looking for a college to attend.”  “When we come to Buckhannon for the festival or other special events, we know we will be greeted with warmth and preparation for whatever we need.”  “Coming into Buckhannon showcases all the beautiful flowers everywhere.” I know from experience that Buckhannon loves bands.  The WAMSB competition will bring some of the best marching bands from around the world to be showcased for all who live here and those who travel in for this once in a lifetime event in our area.

I wish to congratulate our City of Buckhannon for making this great event possible.  Randy Sanders will be the Chair of this event and will make every effort to make it successful.  Randy will soon be sharing some of the plans and some of the folks who will be working together as a team to cover all the events and arrangements that will need to be ready in July of 2023.  Those who have worked with projects of this type know it will take every day from now until the event for it to be highlighted around the world.  Randy’s team will aspire to inspire all those who plan to attend. This world-wide event will need many volunteers and if you have talents that can be used, think about how you can become involved. Buckhannon will be known all over the world and just think how it will shine for all those who attend.  The leaders of Buckhannon and Upshur County work hard to make our community the best it can be.  Thank you for your service to those who live here and those who visit.

I leave you with this thought.  One person can make a difference.  Many working together as a team can change the world.  “Happy New Year!”



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