After receiving over 1,500 visitors at the Harris-Jefferson Student Center at Bluefield State College in August, the Byrd Exhibit hit the road again to its next destination, the town of Lewisburg in Greenbrier County. On Friday, September 2, 2016, the exhibit opened with a reception graciously hosted at the spacious Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center with support from the Dinsmore Law Firm. The exhibit will remain on display at the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center through the end of September.
At the Greenbrier Valley Visitor Center, the Byrd Exhibit is displayed in a bright gallery that is visible through large windows from the street. Passersby can glimpse the select appropriations map and parts of the main fixture of the exhibit. Our opening reception coincided with Lewisburg's "First Friday" festival which brings crowds to the shops and restaurants in downtown. We were honored to welcome former West Virginia Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, who delivered remarks during our reception. Congressman Rahall first went to Washington DC in the early 1970s and worked as a staff assistant to Senator Byrd. Among his many jobs in the Senate, he worked in the cloak room where he recalled keeping Senator Byrd, then Majority Leader informed during times when members were needed on the floor for critical votes. In 1977, Congressman Rahall was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served a total of 38 years. Reflecting on his nearly 40 years as a staffer for and later colleague of Senator Byrd, Congressman Rahall said that "Those of us from West Virginia who knew Senator Byrd know very well that there was much more to him than his public career, he really was a man of the people, and he never forgot from whence he came."
As visitors read through the panels of the exhibit, many shared memories of Senator Byrd and his impact on the state of West Virginia. On the select appropriations map display, visitors could trace several projects that the Senator supported in Lewisburg, including a clinic at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, one of three medical schools in the state. Lewisburg carries on Senator Byrd's vision for West Virginia's future by pairing a thriving tourism economy that supports local businesses and industries with state-of-the-art public and higher education institutions, all accessible from modern transportation infrastructure.
We hope that visitors to Lewisburg over the next month will have the opportunity to stop by the Greenbrier Valley Visitor's Center and explore the Byrd Traveling Exhibit. Visitors are also encouraged to leave their feedback on the exhibit using the forms provided near the entrance to the gallery. Your comments and suggestions are beneficial for future exhibits and programs at the Byrd Center.