Sen. Joe Manchin speaks at Canyon Rim Visitor Center this winter.

Ever since the historic beginning of our state, we have never failed to answer our country’s call. No demand has been too great, no danger too daunting and no trial too threatening.

The abundant natural resources of our state and the hard work and sacrifice of our people have made America stronger and safer. We mined the coal that fueled the Industrial Revolution and powered the railroads across the North American continent. We stoked the steel factories that armed our soldiers for battles all across the globe, built the war ships that plowed the oceans of the world and we have filled the ranks of our military forces in numbers far greater than should be expected of our little state.

In fact, when visitors come to West Virginia, I jump at the chance to tell them we are home to the most patriotic and hardworking people than most any state in the nation. We have fought in more wars, shed more blood and lost more lives for the cause of freedom than most any state.

We have always done the heavy lifting and never complained.  I am so deeply proud of what West Virginians have accomplished and what they will continue to accomplish to protect the freedoms we hold dear.

A West Virginian broke the sound barrier for the first time; a West Virginian did the math that put a man on the moon; for generations, West Virginians have entertained us on TV, film, and stage; West Virginians inspire us through sports at the highest level; it is not an exaggeration to say that this state has made a positive impact on every part of American life.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve West Virginia. Now more than ever, I believe the rest of the nation should come around to what West Virginians have known all along – that we are at our best when we’re working together.

Regardless of where you come from, what you’ve achieved, or what your party affiliation may be, I think we can all agree that, as a statewide and a national community, we want to be more united and hopeful for the future.

Together we’ve accomplished so much — from combatting the opioid epidemic and fighting for our miners’ pensions, to securing funding for the vital agencies that serve our communities, and I look forward to continuing to work together to move our home state forward in the days and years ahead. Even on a smaller scale, you can make a tremendous impact. You can’t solve all the world’s problems, but you certainly can make a world of difference in your circle of friends, family, neighbors — whoever is in your life.

West Virginia is great because our people are great — Mountaineers who will always be free. We are tough, independent, inventive and honest, our character shaped by the wilderness of our state – its rushing streams, its boundless blue skies, its divine forests and its majestic mountains. We are West Virginians. And like the brave, loyal patriots who made our state the 35th star on Old Glory, our love of God and country and family and state is unshakeable. I know that 20, 50, or another 156 years from now, that will always remain the same.

Every West Virginian contributes to our state’s amazing story and on this West Virginia Day, June 20, I encourage everyone to seize this opportunity to imagine the future of this great state – and this nation – and be proud of how far we have come and how far we will go. Happy 156th Birthday, West Virginia!

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