‘Best Of The Best’: Justice Praises West Virginians on State’s Birthday
photo by: Steven Allen Adams
CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice had a message for residents as West Virginia celebrated its 159th birthday Monday: “You’re the best of the best.”
“A lot of those years, and I hate to say it, but people pushed us down. They beat us down,” Justice said Monday for the annual West Virginia Day celebration at the Culture Center on the grounds of the State Capitol Complex in Charleston.
“They told a lot of bad jokes about us, to tell you the truth,” Justice said. “Some people thought they were funny. Not me. At the end of the day, you’re the best of the best. I say it with tears in my eyes because I mean it.”
Justice was joined Monday by First Lady Cathy Justice and Babydog, the Justices’ English Bulldog and unofficial mascot. Visitors to the Culture Center were treated to slices of cake, made from a recipe submitted by Scott Depot resident Kim Wymer, the winner of the First Lady’s West Virginia Birthday Cake contest.
Attendees were entertained by a rendition of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” performed by children from the West Virginia Ambassadors Camp, a summer camp for eighth grade students sponsored by the Department of Arts, Culture and History.
Wyatt Blankenship of Baileysville performed “My Home Among the Hills” by E.W. James Jr.
“I’ve said it 10 million times, but really and truly all of our efforts, all that we do, we owe them, don’t we,” Justice said, referring to the children who performed Monday. “We owe them a chance; we owe them an opportunity. We owe them a state that they will absolutely yearn to come back to like nobody’s business. Any and every time they leave, they’ll want to come home and that’s the way we want it to be.”
West Virginia Day marks the day on June 20, 1863, when the state was admitted into the Union, separating from neighboring Virginia, a member of the Confederate States of America, during the Civil War. The process started with the creation of the Restored Government of Virginia in Wheeling in 1861 and the approval by that government in 1862 for the formation of the new State of West Virginia. The admittance of West Virginia into the Union became official 60 days after President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation accepting the state’s application.
The Culture Center also played host Monday to a reunion of Knights of the Golden Horseshoe, winners and participants in the state’s annual Golden Horseshoe Awards for knowledge of West Virginia history. Past participants in the state’s History Bowl also took part in a legends tournament.
“Cathy and I are so, so proud, with Babydog, to be able to have the honor to be able to serve you and to do the right kinds of things,” Justice said. “You make us proud every day. You pull the rope absolutely together. We’ll all run across this finish line together.”