There's a priceless resource in the hills of West Virginia. It's more valuable than gold, more durable than the coal seams that run through the ridges of our great state. And it's in higher demand than the liquid gas that will propel the Mountain State to once again be at the forefront of energy production.
Our bountiful treasure is our tradition, our rich heritage. It's so tangible one can feel it, as it permeates every square inch of land that composes our beloved West Virginia. It is on this history that Mountaineers stand proud and draw strength as we forge ahead to create a new destiny for the Mountain State.
Today, West Virginia's sesquicentennial, it is fitting that we take a reflective look back and acknowledge how far we've come. It also is fitting that we ponder our future, as we navigate foreign waters as uncharted as those our pioneer ancestors faced.
This modern-day struggle is defining how we balance benefiting from our wealth of natural resources without irreparably damaging these precious gifts with which we've been entrusted. Further, our state's leaders must work to define our course - where and how West Virginia fits in as part of a nation that is facing economic woes and threats both foreign and domestic.
These are uncertain times, and we find ourselves once again on the cusp.
When we look at these points, it seems for as much that has changed in the last 150 years, some core struggles remain the same. But then so too have our people. Mountaineers remain filled with tremendous pride in West Virginia. It's a pride one can learn through birth or that one can acquire through exposure to and appreciation of our Mountain State.
Whether the history books - or financial accounts - reflect this or not is irrelevant. We know our state's greatest resource always has been its people. And their wealth is measured by the Mountaineer spirit that emanates from the very depths of their soul.
Some don't understand the deep-rooted passion West Virginians have, which results in the state and its residents being lampooned. Often the butt of cruel jokes, we are openly mocked. It's sad but true.
However, like so many precious resources, value is in the eye of the beholder. Someone along the way had to see the beauty of a diamond and assign it great worth.
Our state's founding fathers had such vision when they worked to make West Virginia the 35th state in the Union.
Today, like our forefathers before us, let us stand tall, proud and free. Let us celebrate our accomplishments and ready ourselves to battle forward as we continue this journey of statehood. Our future is not yet written, and every Mountaineer is an author of West Virginia's next chapter.
- Heather Goodwin Henline is the publisher and general manager of The Inter-Mountain. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.