Mountaineers Are Always Free

Enormous changes have occurred since this date 151 years ago, when West Virginia became a state. Among the most significant has been an accelerating shift in the governmental environment.

Our state’s founders believed residents of what now is West Virginia were not being served well by the central government of the mother state, Virginia. After decades of protests, they turned to the drastic, risk-filled path of separation and formation of a new state.

What happened right here in Wheeling in creation of a new state against the will of those in its progenitor had never been done before. It has not been accomplished since.

Then, a group of very thoughtful leaders decided, in effect, to turn to the federal government for protection against abuses in Richmond.

Now, we West Virginians find ourselves under siege from that very national government. Many residents of other states also are worried and upset about what the nation’s founders would consider a shocking expansion of federal control over our daily lives. It cannot be blamed on either Republicans or Democrats. Leaders of both parties for many decades share the blame.

But the process has grown more intense during the past few years, under the presidency of Barack Obama. Control of our personal lives that would have seemed inconceivable to West Virginians in 1863 now is taken for granted.

Dictates from Washington tell us how much we must spend on health insurance and what will be covered. Unilateral action by the White House threatens to double our electric bills and kill jobs all over our state. Even our personal communications may not be secure from prying eyes in the federal government.

When we object, we are accused of being small-minded rural residents who rely too much on our faith and individual liberties. What a shock that would have been to the founders.

In 1863, West Virginians turned to Washington for help. Now many of us wonder who will save us from our rescuer.

Yes, we face challenges Mountain State residents would not have imagined on June 20, 1863. Will they be overcome? Time will tell.

This West Virginia Day, however, it is worth considering that we have fought many battles in the past. We have won some, lost others.

But we never surrendered. That is because defending West Virginia and our fellow West Virginians is a cause from which we will never shirk.

Happy West Virginia Day.

Montani semper liberi!