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Manchin Visits County

By Staff | Oct 5, 2016

Photo by Bruce Crawford United States Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to a group of Magnolia and Paden City High School students on Monday, Oct. 3.

Wetzel County students received some motivation Monday afternoon as United States Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) paid a visit to Magnolia High School and candidly spoke to a group of Magnolia and Paden City High School students on a variety of topics, one being the nation’s problem with drug abuse.

“Not one of you doesn’t have someone affected by drug abuse,” Manchin said.

Notably, the senator remarked that though the United States makes up less than five percent of the world population, the country uses 80 percent of the opiates in the world.

Manchin said though people are worried about China and Russia, those countries “don’t want to fight us.”

“They don’t have to. We won’t be clean enough,” he said, noting how the peoples’ addiction with drugs threatens the United States’ status as a superpower.

Manchin described how drug addiction leads to a downward spiral.

“You will steal from your family. You will have a felony. A felony stays with you,” he warned.

And obviously, those without a criminal background are better job candidates than those carrying a felony. Manchin noted that though some say jobs are scarce, “we have jobs. We can’t find enough workers.”

The senator also warned students about the dangers of social media, referencing online bullying and stereotyping through social media.

“We are destroying eachother on social media,” he said, adding how students “live in world where most of us never came from.”

“The meanness you see in the media… you see political candidates talking about eachother… I wasn’t raised that way,” he said.

The senator also gave a tip for figuring out an (incumbent) candidate’s character: the way he or she introduces his or herself.

“For instance, when a person says, ‘I’m Senator Joe Manchin,’ that’s a red flag,” Manchin said, noting that the preferable introduction would be to exclude the title and say “I’m Joe Manchin.”

“I’d rather know you as a person,” he said. “Aren’t you still a person?”

Manchin said it is important for a candidate to tell why he or she wants the job. “Is it to better yourself or to do something for all of us?”

Though he didn’t speak on either presidential candidate, Manchin did remark on former President Bill Clinton, noting that Clinton has been a friend of his.

“He has worked with me on different things,” Manchin said, also expressing how Clinton is a good source of information.

In another matter, Manchin noted that real success in life is for those “who can bring people together.”

He noted that he once asked a group of students to define leadership. A young girl answered in that “a leader is a dealer in hope.”

“Think about it,” Manchin said. “if you know someone who gives hope, that is a leader.”

Manchin also stressed the importance of taking advantage of a good education, as well as taking responsibility for one’s actions. He noted that he didn’t take his education as seriously as he could have, until he was in college.

“How much are you really getting out of educational opportunities? I did enough to get through. Then, I got hurt and couldn’t play ball. I knew then that I had to do something.”

Manchin said we all might have different struggles and disadvantages, but “if you get an education, you can overcome that.”

“If you have a good education, you can do anything you want.”

The senator remarked of a time when he, along with some other of the nation’s leaders, toured Afghanistan.

While headed to an Air Force base, Manchin witnessed young girls, walking in a group, through a war zone. Manchin described the scene, explaining that these girls were going to school. This was something they had not been allowed to do prior to the United State’s intervention in Afghanistan.

“They were willing to walk through war zones, to a blown-up building, where they would sit on a cement floor…. to go to school,” he said, stressing how lucky the United States is with the opportunities it has.

Yet, he recollected another situation that profoundly affected him:

“I had seen where (lawmakers) had cut half of the funds on clothing vouchers,” Manchin explained, adding that when he took office, he had again changed this, increasing the value.

Manchin noted that while at a speaking engagement, a young girl had stood by him, to get his attention. When Manchin asked the young girl what she needed, she stated “I want to thank you for helping me to fit in,” referencing the clothing vouchers.

“Everyone can be something,” Manchin said to the MHS and PCHS students, referencing the fact that clothing doesn’t make us who we are.

The bottom line,” the senator said, “is you can do whatever you want right here.”

“But, you have to give something back,” he added, encouraging students to pursue local charities, to help at food pantries… in an effort to gain perspective.

Manchin also explained how “you don’t fix anything by complaining.”

“See if you can be somebody you don’t think you can be. Exceed your expectations.”

“When you stand up and start holding yourself accountable, that’s when you start building your character.”

MHS Principal Kathi Schmalz noted that her students are not allowed to say “I can’t do it.”

“We can say, ‘I can’t do it yet,'” she noted.

MHS students also shared an acronymn, that students work to put into practice, with Manchin – GRIT: Guts, Respect, Initiative, and Tenacity.

Schmalz said at a recent football game, the students could be heard chanting “GRIT! GRIT! GRIT!”

And speaking of sports, Manchin recollected 1963, when his high school basketball team played against the Blue Eages, who ended up winning the state championship.

“We should’ve won,” he said jokingly.

“I know the area well,” Manchin said of Wetzel County. “You all have a legacy.”

Side Note: Manchin also reminded the students that the deadline for application to the academies – the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is Oct. 7 .