VIENNA - West Virginia's 150th birthday, the sesquicentennial, was celebrated Thursday in Vienna with a parade of antique cars and a ceremony in Jackson Park.
Vienna Councilman Jim Miracle spoke about how West Virginia's establishment makes its history unique among the states.
"West Virginia has a unique standing as we are the only state made out of a war," he said. "The people who settled Vienna and the people who settled Parkersburg got together and the people of Wood County spearheaded to get us out of Virginia when they decided to secede from the Union."
Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews leads the Pledge of Allegiance at Vienna’s West Virginia Day ceremony. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)
Miracle said the first and second conventions to look at the possibility of becoming a second state were paid for by people from Wood County.
"Wood County needs to be proud of the fact that we were the spearhead and had the people who figured out a way to do it and how to legally do it to make us the state we are today," he said.
A representative for Sen. Joe Manchin, Chris Chiles, read a statement from the senator regarding the celebration.
"It is my privilege to welcome all of you to this very celebration of West Virginia's 150th birthday, a brave and daring declaration of statehood that is unprecedented in the history of the United States of America," he wrote. "Born out of the fiery turmoil of the Civil War, West Virginia was founded by courageous patriots, led by President Abraham Lincoln, who were willing to risk their lives and fortunes in the united pursuit of justice and freedom for all."
Manchin's letter said West Virginia chose to remain in the union and remains a state dedicated to the ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp read a letter he received from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Rapp said the letter touches on the aspects that make West Virginia special. Rapp said he wanted the younger people in attendance to remember this anniversary since they may be around for the 200th anniversary.
"Fifty years ago I was on the outside looking in, a young man in awe of a state knit so tightly and beautifully, a place whose people are so closely connected but welcomed me and shared their treasured home," Rockefeller wrote. "A place where the mountains lead to heaven and dirt roads lead to home. Supper time is family time and neighbors always give with both hands, where summer means 4-H camp and sugar maples glow in the fall, the winter tests resilience and the sound of spring peepers bring us joy."
Rockefeller said he found his life's passion in public service while in West Virginia, work he said he has felt grateful to perform and found his forever home.
Rapp said he wanted to thank those at the celebration for being part of it and "for what each and everyone of you do in your daily lives to make Vienna and West Virginia the special place it is."