Happy Birthday, West Virginia!
As governor of this great state, I’m so happy and proud to be able to celebrate 156 years of Almost Heaven, West Virginia. I’ve been saying since day one, we’re a state with four beautiful seasons, unmatched outdoor recreation and the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet. Who wouldn’t want to come here?
I’ve lived here my whole life. Cathy and I raised our family here, and now we’re blessed to see our grandson grow up in here among these West Virginia hills. We love this state and are so proud to call it home.
I’ve always believed in West Virginia’s potential to become a world-class tourism destination. But, before I came in the door, we kept holding ourselves back in a lot of ways by not telling our story.
Each year we have one day, one chance to honor and celebrate all that’s wonderful about our great state. West Virginia Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, and we’re finally using it to make a splash and put West Virginia on the map.
This year, I called on all West Virginians – near and far – and everyone who loves the Mountain State to tell the world about it and share their favorite moments and memories on social media using the hashtag #AlmostHeaven.
We called it the West Virginia Week Challenge, but if you love West Virginia as much as I do, it wasn’t really a challenge at all, was it?
It’s been a joy to see people post their memories, gorgeous mountain views, best seasons, favorite activities and on and on and on.
For some, it’s been a chance to tell the outside world about the exceptional quality of life our state has to offer. For others, it’s been a chance to share their longing for home.
No matter who you are or where you’re from, West Virginia is one of those special kinds of places where, as soon as you lay your eyes on our incredible landscapes and breathe in our mountain air, it instantly starts feeling like home. A part of your soul is forever tied to this magical place, and it always brings you back. That feeling of comfort and belonging was so much fun to experience all over again through the challenge.
It also gave me a chance to reflect on some of my favorite memories in our great state, like fly fishing in the Cranberry River, stocking trout with my college buddies, grouse hunting with dad and grandfather, and turkey hunting with my daughter, Jill.
But the best part about this entire campaign is that we’ve found a way to take these special memories for all of us and use them to inspire more and more people to visit and see for themselves all we have to offer.
Your outpouring of love for West Virginia reached millions. And thanks to your participation over the past week, we’ve been able to put #AlmostHeaven in front of more people than ever before.
You’ve heard me say this time and time again, but you’re not really a frog if you’re not proud of your own pond. We’ve certainly proven we’re proud of our pond through this campaign.
So, thank you for taking the time out of your daily routines and busy schedules to share your love, support and state pride.
Now we ask you to continue sharing your love for West Virginia with people outside our borders. We have thousands upon thousands of high-paying, unfilled jobs and we’re asking for your help to share this with others along with the invitation to come to a terrific job and live in paradise. And, to any West Virginians who felt they had to leave to find a good job, ask them to take another look at all the opportunities we've built and urge them to please come home.
West Virginia has been so good to us. It’s the least we can do to share these incredible feelings with the world.
On behalf of all of us, thank you, West Virginia, for being Almost Heaven, and happy 156th birthday.
Jordan Damron, Jordan.L.Damron@wv.gov