Justice, Honaker bring Greenbrier County to Charleston for West Virginia Day celebration

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “I was sitting in there thinking about how far we’ve come in 160 years, and how much of our culture has changed over that time – whether it be politics or social norms, or technology, or anything else – but there are just some things about West Virginia that are sacred and never change.” 

That’s what Del. Mike Honaker, R-Greenbrier, told RealWV after Tuesday’s West Virginia Day celebration at the Culture Center in Charleston. Honaker was on hand to deliver the ceremony’s opening prayer.

“It’s our love of the mountains,” Honaker continued. “It’s our family – family means a lot to people. Public service means a lot to people as well, and I think that West Virginia is one of the states where, I think, the ‘common good’ is still a goal.”

West Virginia celebrates it’s 160th birthday at the Culture Center Theatre in Charleston on June 20. Video by Matthew Young, RealWV.

During the celebration’s opening blessing, Honaker spoke of West Virginia as no longer being “the best kept secret in the world,” adding that, “We are rising evermore, and what a great day to thank God for what he’s done in West Virginia, and for West Virginia.” 

Honaker explained that the State of West Virginia is a great place to live, because the people who live in West Virginia are, themselves, great. 

W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice, Babydog, First Lady Cathy Justice, Del. Mike Honaker, Secretary Randall Reid-Smith on stage at the Culture Center Theatre in Charleston June 20. Photo by Matthew Young, RealWV.

“It’s not just about us as West Virginians, or individuals,” Honaker added, after the celebration. “We really want better and safer communities, good schools, and good jobs. I don’t think that’s ever different among Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or whatever. I think it’s one of the ties that bind us, and makes West Virginia so special.”

In further representation of Greenbrier County at Charleston’s birthday extravaganza – on the strength of Superintendent Jeff Bryant’s nomination – First Lady Cathy Justice was inducted as an “Honorary Knight” into West Virginia’s Golden Horseshoe Society. 

In his nomination-letter, as read by Dustin Lambert of the W.Va. Department of Education, Bryant cited Justice’s work with both Communities In Schools, as well as the Golden Horseshoe program, as examples of her dedication to the betterment of West Virginia, and her work to even the playing field for the state’s youth. 

Irish tenor Emmet Cahill performs “Danny Boy” during the West Virginia Day celebration at the Culture Center Theatre in Charleston on June 20. Video by Matthew Young, RealWV.

“I regard it a humble privilege to nominate First Lady Cathy Justice for consideration to be the recipient of the 2023 Honorary Golden Horseshoe Award,” Bryant’s letter began. “Our first lady personifies the highest qualities of grace and elegance through her everyday walk in life. She sincerely possesses a love for everyone, as exhibited through her courteous goodwill, and ever-present acts of kindness. The first lady sees the best in everyone, and offers encouragement and support to all she comes in contact with.”

“First Lady Cathy Justice truly loves all West Virginia children,” Bryant’s letter continues. “This love is evident through her vision, and successful implementation of the Communities In Schools program throughout the great State of West Virginia. As superintendent of Greenbrier County Schools, I see vividly, everyday, the amazing, positive impact that Communities In Schools have on the lives of our students.”

Bryant’s letter also referenced Justice’s work with the Golden Horseshoe program – specifically the creation of both the new “Knighting Sword” and Knighting Bench – as further motivating-factors behind the nomination.

“I respectfully request that the Honorary Golden Horseshoe committee extend every possible consideration to proclaim and honor the great works of our first lady, Cathay Justice, as the recipient of the 2023 Honorary Golden Horseshoe Award,” Bryant’s letter concluded.

On hand to perform the knighting ceremony was W.Va. Department of Education Deputy Superintendent, Michelle Blatt.

Watch the full West Virginia Day celebration from the Culture Center Theatre in Charleston.
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