GLENVILLE, WV—Jim Spears, Glenville State College’s Vice-President for External Affairs (Chief of Staff for then West Virginia Governor and current U.S. Senator Joe Manchin), gave the keynote address at GSC’s annual Constitution Day event sponsored by the Department of Social Sciences and the West Virginia Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu. The theme of the September 17th speech was ‘One Hundred and Fifty Years of West Virginia Statehood.’
Spears addressed the largest audience ever in attendance, well over a hundred, by starting with a question, “Does anybody really know what time it is?” He answered, “The time. . . is 1863. A war-weary President, Abe Lincoln, ponders whether a new state, West Virginia, should be born out of the Civil War. The time is. . .1968. Four students lie in pools of blood at Kent State, killed by the Ohio National Guard. Later that year Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King are assassinated. The time is…September 11, 2011. A terrified young woman stares out her window at a jet liner headed straight at her. Over 3,000 die that day.” Spears concluded his dramatic speech, “The time. . .to have faith in our founding fathers and love for our country. . .is now.”
Three GSC students also had the opportunity to speak. The Constitution Day Essay Contest winner was Cody Carnefix, a junior from Liberty in Putnam County, West Virginia majoring in English (5-adult) and social studies (5-adult) education. Carnefix stated, “The question ‘Is West Virginia a legal state?’ is a very complicated one. The answer depends on different people’s perspective, ultimately though, the facts prove that West Virginia is an unconstitutional state. The U.S. Constitution says, ‘New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union, but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of Congress.’ This means that you cannot create a new state out of an existing state, but with Virginia no longer being a part of the U.S. because of its’ secession, does that make it legal for West Virginia to become a state? I believe the answer is no, due to the fact that it was unconstitutional for Virginia to secede in the first place, and legally they were never out of the union. This does not mean that I am not glad that West Virginia separated because I feel that it was inevitable. I simply believe that the leaders of western Virginia saw an opportunity to get out of Virginia’s grasp and become their own state that would represent them much better than Virginia could or would; so they jumped on it, and today we have our great state of West Virginia.”
Runners ups were Tyler Wilson, a junior from Buford, Georgia majoring in social studies (5-adult) education and Tyler Fortney, a freshman from Elkins, Randolph County, West Virginia majoring in history and political science. All three contestants received gift certificates to the GSC bookstore. Door prizes donated by the Glenville State College Foundation were also given to many attendees.
“Constitution Day is a teaching opportunity as well as a moment for GSC to reflect on our country’s history and demonstrate our patriotism. I compliment Mr. Spears, as well as the speeches of our contest winners, on their eloquent and moving words” said Dr. Art DeMatteo, GSC Professor of History and Pi Gamma Mu Faculty Advisor.
For more information on the annual GSC Constitution Day event, contact DeMatteo at Arthur.Dematteo@glenville.edu or (304) 462-6273.