CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia National Guard unveiled a new statue on the grounds of McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston Saturday. The new addition to the base is aimed at celebrating the traditions and lineage of the West Virginia National Guard.
The monument is a statue of a Minuteman–one of he original citizen soldiers from the early days of the United States when Colonists stood ready to take on any threat to a budding nation.
“The term itself means these people, citizen soldiers and regular citizens, were ready to respond at a minute’s notice. We’ve been doing that ever since,” said West Virginia Adjutant General James Hoyer.
The statue includes an inscription on its base which read, “Let me plant my banner in West Augusta. I will surround it with fighting men and together we will drive the invaders from our land.”
During those days West Augusta was the name of what today we know as West Virginia. Hoyer stressed the importance of those words to the West Virginia National Guard.
“That was the statement George Washington made to the 96 militia men in Shepherdstown who marched 600 miles in 24 days and became part of the original formation of the Continental Army,” he said.
The unit formed in that march still exists today. The 201st Field Artillery Battalion which remains the oldest, continuous serving unit in not only the National Guard, but in the entire United States Army. The 201st has fought in ever conflict the county has ever engaged and includes a battle streamer on its banner from the Revolutionary War.
“We’ve been defending the nation since well before we were a state,” Hoyer said.
The General also hoped the statue would remind members of the West Virginia Army and Air National Guard not only of their lineage and duty, but also of their obligation to lead the nation, particularly in these troubled times.
“Those are the most important things we are doing today, providing stability in a pandemic and setting the example of what we should be as a nation,” he said.