by Bob Stealey
CLARKSBURG -- A heavy downpour of rain waited long enough Friday for a celebration of West Virginia's 141st birthday to take place on the Harrison County Courthouse Plaza.
"We've had a really nice crowd here despite the threat of rain," said Kathie Titus, Greater Clarksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director.
"It's good that we're having the event today rather than Monday," said Rachel Torchia, Greater Clarksburg Associates vice president. "Some businesses will be closed on Monday, so it's not likely there would be as many people in attendance."
The GCA sponsored the plaza event and the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library was host to an historic presentation after the GCA event, Titus said.
At least 25 state birthday cakes were specially made by area bakeries and provided for those who attended the event on the plaza, according to Gloria Mazzei of Nutter Fort, president of the GFWC Woman's Club of Clarksburg.
"There are very few pieces of cake remaining," Mazzei said shortly after noon.
A highlight of the event was the appearance of Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, portrayed by Steve Casell of Dunbar, who spoke on why Clarksburg's "native son" never spoke about death with people.
After Jackson's graduation from West Point, he was in the Mexican War around 1846.
"When the Civil War started, some of the young men believed that being in the war would be an adventure," Casell said. "But Jackson discovered in Mexico that war was about really killing people. Life on the battlefield involved confusion and bloodshed on every front."
Casell explained that he spoke on the subject of what people thought the Civil War would be like to remind present-day people that their view of war was much like our view of the battles of today.
Jeff Cline of Greenbriar Acres, president of the local Sons of the American Revolution chapter, was dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier for the event.
"I believe West Virginia will always stay the course for her people's freedom for which we fought," Cline said.
Local band Borderline furnished the music, including many "southern rock" songs. This was one of the features that Clarksburg resident Malory Barker liked best.
"It's good to have our state and city recognized the way it's being done today," Barker said.
Seven-year-old Desiree Gump of Clarksburg also liked the music, but also enjoyed seeing Stonewall Jackson, she said.
Former Clarksburg resident Steve Chase, who now lives in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., identified himself as a student of the Civil War and Stonewall Jackson for many years.
"I think this event is wonderful," said Chase.
"There are a lot of historic anniversaries and occasions that people today tend to forget," said Ron Bucy of Bridgeport. "Our forefathers have fought to set us free in an effort to keep improving our way of life, and we too often take it for granted."