MASON COUNTY — Several Mason County residents were able to partake in a day off on Wednesday in celebration of West Virginia Day and remember the little things that make this state unique as well as the history of how it came to be.
An annually observed holiday, the origin of West Virginia Day dates back to the days of the American Civil War. It was reported the state of Virginia became divided between joining the Confederate States, or remain in the United States. Due to this conflict, as well as other political and social disagreements, several counties decided to separate from the state of Virginia and create West Virginia. President Abraham Lincoln declared on April 20, 1863, West Virginia would be admitted to the United States 60 days later, and on June 20, 1863, West Virginia officially became the 35th state. It was reported that beginning in 1864, the day was unofficially celebrated as a holiday and became an official state holiday in 1927. Now, 149 years later, the day is always observed on June 20, with the exception of when that day falls on a Sunday. It is then observed on June 21.
Shortly after statehood came the design of the State Seal. Designed in 1863 by Joseph H. Diss Debar of Doddridge County, the Great Seal of the State of West Virginia features several aspects that capture the essence of West Virginia. In the center of the seal there is a boulder with the date June 20, 1863, inscribed on it. Located in front of the boulder are two crossed rifles and a liberty cap, which reportedly represents the importance of fighting for liberty. On either side of the boulder there are two men, on representing agriculture, the other representing industry. The agricultural man on the left is a farmer with an ax and a plow in front of a cornstalk. The industrial man on the right is a miner with a pickax, an anvil and a sledgehammer. Located on the outer ring of the seal is the Latin phrase and state motto, “Montani Semper Liberi,” which translates as “Mountaineers are Always Free.” There is also a reverse side of the seal, which is the official seal of the Governor.
Along with the formation of the Mountain State of course comes along all of the little knick-knack like things that statehood brings, one of which is that nickname. Some of those fun facts include the colors of Old Gold and Blue, which were adopted as official state colors on March 8, 1963, and the state flower the Rhododendron maximum, or “big laurel,” which was adopted on January 23, 1903. “The West Virginia Hills,” “This is My West Virginia,” and “My Home Sweet Home” were named the state songs on February 28, 1963, and the Cardinal was also made the state’s official bird in 1949.
Some other statehood items include the black bear, the state animal; the Monarch Butterfly, the state butterfly; the Brook Trout, the state fish; and the Golden Delicious Apple, the state fruit.