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Lee Greenwood wrote “God Bless the U.S.A.” in 1983 to bring people together. He said, “We have our differences and that is one of the many strengths of our country, but even if we don’t agree on economics or politics, I hope this song can let us sing together as Americans, and perhaps our differences won’t matter so much.

“I’m sometimes overwhelmed by this vast nation and wish I could see how America will change in the next one hundred years. As long as we continue to dream, create inventions, and solve the challenges of an ever-expanding population, we will have the power to create a better society.

“But it is inevitable that the freedom, liberty, and can-do attitude that characterize us will be challenged, sometimes in ways that leave us no choice but to defend ourselves and the land we love. It happened in 1941 at Pearl Harbor and again in 2001 at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”

The song was written in 1983, but it still warms my heart. We have just been through two elections, the Statewide Primary and the Municipal Election, and it is also the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War (War between the States).

We had differences of opinion from national down to our families. Because we could not solve our problems in a civilized manner, we fought one of the bloodiest wars in our history. We lost more lives and friendships. It was also fought on American soil. This means our ancestors’ blood is in our soil.

We must prepare for differences of opinion in the future. Do you know that during our recent elections that under 50% of the eligible voters used the privilege? Do you know that in the election to decide statehood for West Virginia, there were armed Union soldiers on guard? There will be more elections. Prepare now. If you are not registered, celebrate Independence Day by making a vow to register for voting.

I pray that God, who has watched over this nation for 235 years, will not forsake us. I pray that God will keep us safe from those who would do us harm. I pray for America.

“’Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God Bless the U.S.A.”

*          *          *          *          *

The following is from the W.Va. Dept. of Culture & History’s website:

Everything changed with the approach of the Civil War. In November 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president, with virtually no support from the South. His election resulted in the country’s southern-most states leaving the Union. On Apr. 17, 1861, days after Lincoln’s order to seize Fort Sumter in South Carolina, a convention of Virginians voted to submit a secession bill to the people. Led by Clarksburg’s John S. Carlile, many western delegates marched out of the Secession Convention, vowing to form a state government loyal to the Union.

Many of these delegates gathered in Clarksburg on Apr. 22, calling for a pro-Union convention, which met in Wheeling from May 13-15. On May 23, a majority of Virginia voters approved the Ordinance of Secession. It is not possible to determine accurately the vote total from present-day West Virginia due to vote tampering and the destruction of records. Some argue that secessionists were in the majority in western Virginia, while others feel Unionists had greater support.

Following a Union victory at the Battle of Philippi and the subsequent occupation of northwestern Virginia by General George B. McClellan, the Second Wheeling Convention met between June 11 and June 25. Delegates formed the Restored, or Reorganized, Government of Virginia, and chose Francis H. Pierpont as governor. President Lincoln recognized the Restored Government as the legitimate government of Virginia. John Carlile and Waitman T. Willey became U.S. senators and Jacob B. Blair, William G. Brown and Kellian V. Whaley became congressmen representing pro-Union Virginia.

On Oct. 24, 1861, residents of 39 counties in western Virginia approved the formation of a new Unionist state. The accuracy of these election results have been questioned, since Union troops were stationed at many of the polls to prevent Confederate sympathizers from voting. At the Constitutional Convention, which met in Wheeling from November 1861 to February 1862, delegates selected the counties for inclusion in the new state of West Virginia.

From the initial list, most of the counties in the Shenandoah Valley were excluded due to their control by Confederate troops and a large number of local Confederate sympathizers. In the end, 50 counties were selected (all of present-day West Virginia’s counties except Mineral, Grant, Lincoln, Summers and Mingo, which were formed after statehood). Most of the eastern and southern counties did not support statehood, but were included for political, economic, and military purposes.

The mountain range west of the Blue Ridge became the eastern border of West Virginia to provide a defense against Confederate invasion. One of the most controversial decisions involved the Eastern Panhandle counties, which supported the Confederacy. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which ran through the Eastern Panhandle, was extremely important for the economy and troop movements. Inclusion of these counties removed all of the railroad from the Confederacy.

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