As we prepare to celebrate our state's 150th birthday, this Memorial Day holds special meaning for our state's history as well as its future. First known as Decoration Day, this national holiday has West Virginia roots. It was founded in 1866 by Julia Pierpont, wife of the Governor of Restored Virginia-the very first name of our beloved state. Initially enacted as a tribute to Union soldiers of the Civil War, the day has since expanded to honor Americans who have died in all wars.
As the state with the largest percentage of its residents, per capita, serving in the military, you likely know someone who is a veteran or member of the military. Year after year, many West Virginians look forward to what has become a modern-day tradition of showing thanks: The Run for the Wall. Every year, an increasing number of West Virginians join the ride-clearly showing our support for our veterans.
As thousands of motorcyclists travel through West Virginia on their way to Washington D.C. to honor our nation's veterans, we are also reminded of the summer travel season and the importance of roadway safety. This Memorial Day, as in years past, millions of Americans will set out on the road. Whether you're traveling to see your family, or setting out on a long road trip like The Run for the Wall, we all want our travels to be safe. And so do our dedicated law enforcement officers. This month marks the beginning the annual, life-saving law enforcement campaign: Click It or Ticket. This year's the message is simple: Be Ready, Be Buckled.
I recently joined our law enforcement community, legislators, along with business and transportation leaders to call attention to seat belt use as I signed legislation that makes it a primary offense to be unbuckled. Beginning July 9, 2013, if you or your passenger is not wearing a seatbelt you can be pulled over. This single piece of legislation is expected to prevent 184 serious injuries and save 17 lives each year. No one plans to be in an automobile accident-wearing a seat belt can save you and your family from unnecessary pain, suffering, and heartache. Please buckle up.
As we celebrate Memorial Day, I hope you enjoy your time with family and friends, remembering our rich heritage and honoring our veterans. And if you're traveling-travel safe-with your seatbelt latched. To all of our veterans, thank you.