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Golden Horseshoe Reunion
Leads To Cultural Encounter
by Maricia Mlynek

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Last Friday, I spent the day at the Golden Horseshoe Reunion in Charleston with over 500 Ladies and Knights of the Order of the Golden Horseshoe, a tradition that has existed in the state since 1931.

More than 15,000 West Virginia students have received the award in merit of their knowledge of the history of their state.

I witnessed the event by invitation of friend and Golden Horseshoe winner, Terry Harris.

As one can imagine, I was thoroughly excited about this adventure. It was not only my first official “West Virginia Reunion,” but also my first trip to the capitol. I am always eager to embrace my new state and home. This was an opportunity to do so with gusto.

I was pleased with the many trees and foliage around the capitol building. It actually resembled a park not a hub of politics. I felt that this is fitting for our “Wild and Wonderful” state.

We visited the statue that is based on Vachel Lindsay’s poem, “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight.” The sculpture stands nine and one half feet high and depicts Lincoln in a robe and slippers. His eyes are heavy to reflect his heart, torn by a nation under the strain of civil war. The statue is perfect for the steps in front of the south portico of the Capitol, as we were the only state formed due to that conflict.

The reunion ceremony took place in the Upper Rotunda. There were several speakers, including Gov. Joe Manchin and authoress Belinda Anderson.

The group stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance and to sing the National Anthem. Each voice rang out and resonated against the walls of our state’s core. It brought a chill.

Emotions were also stirred by the singing of “Home Among the Hills.” It truly was a reunion of Mountaineers.

I felt like part of the elite group when even I knew the answer to a question about the state motto. Over 500 voices said in unison, “Mountaineers are always free.” Manchin spoke of the state and its people with pride.

After the ceremony, we ate lunch and toured the capitol building. We ended the day with a visit to the newly remodeled State Museum.

We were one of the first groups of people allowed to go through the museum before its grand opening on Sunday. The museum is located in the Cultural Center and is free for all to pass through.

Terry and I took two and one-half hours to absorb the museum. We were impressed.

In fact, we had only two complaints. The first was that there is only one small photo of Chuck Yeager in the museum, and it isn’t even labeled.

The second was a Calhoun complaint. We found a basket by Tom McColley, which was very exciting. A Calhoun artisan represented in the State Museum--Yeah!

Then we looked at the card. It read Tom McColley - Chloe - Clay County. We were disappointed and brought it to the immediate attention of the tour guide.

He disagreed with our claim and stated firmly that Chloe is not in Calhoun County. We were just as firm when we told him that he was wrong.

I called Mr. McColley on Monday to tell him that he is being misrepresented. He said that he would look to getting the matter corrected as soon as possible.

I think by the end of the tour, the museum attendants were excited to see us leave, but we didn’t mind.

We had a great time, and I am now an honorary part of the West Virginia family, as I have attended an authentic Golden Horseshoe Reunion.

Thanks, Terry, for taking me along. I end with the lyrics of a West Virginia favorite:

My Home Among the Hills

Words and music
   by E.W. James, Jr.

There’s a land of rolling

     mountains where the sky is blue above;

And though I may roam, I

  hurry home, to the friendly hills I love.

Where moonlit meadows

ring with the call of  whippoorwills,

Always you will find me in my

          home among the hills.

And where the sun draws

        rainbows in the mist of

waterfalls and mountain rills,

My heart will be always in the

              West Virginia Hills.

There, autumn hillsides are

       bright with scarlet trees,

And in the spring, the robins

   sing while apple blossoms

          whisper in the breeze.

And there is music in the

      flashing streams and joy

           in fields of daffodils,

Laughter through the happy

valleys of my home among the hills.

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By Helen Morris:

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