November 11th holds a special place in the hearts of all Washingtonians. Each year, we have twice the reason to celebrate -- we honor the sacrifices and commitments of America's veterans and we recognize the day in 1889 when President Benjamin Harrison signed the proclamation admitting Washington as the 42nd state to the Union.
Originally referred to as the "Columbia Territory," Congress changed the name in 1853 to "Washington" to honor the Father of our Country, George Washington. Home to some of America's oldest Native American tribes, the territory's population was estimated to be about 357,000 people when it entered statehood in 1889. Today, Washington state boasts almost 6.9 million citizens, spanning over 71,000 square miles of dense green forests, farmland, arid deserts, and cascading mountains.
Nicknamed "The Evergreen State," Washington's economic diversity was prominent from the very beginning. The men elected to Washington's first State Constitutional Convention in Olympia included lawyers, farmers, merchants, doctors, bankers, teachers, real-estate agents, editors, loggers, ministers, surveyors, miners, and fishermen.
Leading industries such as agriculture, forest products, and fishing have played a vital role to our state's economy from the very start. Today, newer industries such as aviation, computer software development, and retail join the major ranks, bringing in a combined total of over $325 million to our state's economy every year. In addition to being a popular tourist destination, our state is a major exporter of manufactured goods, produce, raw materials, and hydroelectricity.
When learning of Washington's statehood, the Yakima-Herald Republic reported, "Here in dignified Yakima we smiled a smile of satisfaction and moved along the even tenor of our way, building three story brick business blocks, handsome residences and projecting new and greater enterprises for the coming year."
From its earliest beginnings right up to today, and even during the hardest of times, this very spirit has kept Washington growing and moving forward for the past 124 years.
With our world-class agriculture products, booming manufacturing and high-tech industries, low-cost renewable energy production, accessible ports and waterway transportation system, and must-see attractions, it's no wonder Washington has grown into the thriving state it is today. The majesty and resourcefulness that was first explored by Lewis and Clark makes the State of Washington a great place to live and call home.