“Virginia is for Lovers” was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame on September 21, 2009. Forbes.com identified “Virginia is for Lovers” as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time.

The official tourism website of the Commonwealth of Virginia says, “No one knows exactly why ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ has been so durable, but part of the mystique of the slogan is that it has meant many things to different people. Today, a new generation is discovering love for Virginia’s mountains, beaches, history, theme parks, vibrant cities, outdoor activities, sports and hospitality.”

My wife and I visited Virginia over the Independence Day holiday weekend. I am now numbered among those lovers. I have learned much and have been inspired by the indescribable scenery along with the rich history and heritage. Following are a few of the things that I learned- and an occasional comment:

– God made a beautiful world and much of it is in Virginia.

– Black bears may be big but they can run very fast.

– With the number of churches and colleges/universities in the state there is no excuse for everyone not to be educated and evangelized.

– Virginia is rich with American history. You can hardly take a step without stepping on an historic site whether it be Native American, early settlers, the American Revolution, or the Civil War.

-Eight United States presidents came from this state.

– If you are going to Luray Caverns, get there early or be prepared for a long wait in line to purchase tickets. But, if necessary, the wait is worth it.

– 16,000 Mennonites reside in Rockingham County and represent a much broader diversity than I imagined.

– Skyline Drive is a 105 mile road of unbelievable scenery in the Shenandoah National Park.  It is easy to become speechless as you look out over the vast expanse of natural beauty. As we drove along the ridge overlooking the Shenandoah Valley we were greeted by one breathtaking sight after another. After a while we were so overwhelmed that I almost became bored. I wonder if the folks who live there take the beauty for granted.

– The small town of Elkton is home to the 2011 State Little League Champions.

– Singers Glen, VA is a small community in the Shenandoah Valley about 8 miles west of Harrisonburg just off US Route 33 near Shenandoah National Park. This small community is the birthplace of Southern Gospel music and is the site of the publication of the oldest continually published hymnal in America, Harmonica Sacra. Still in print today, it is the oldest continually used hymnal published in America. It contains the first printing of the hymn, How Firm a Foundation.

– Seen on a church sign on Highway 340 between Elkton and Luray, VA: “Jesus is the answer to all our problems.” Yes but He is also the cause of many of our problems because He set such high standards and we struggle to adhere to His teachings.

– When we visited Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello I was reminded of his opinions on religion and government. His comments include the following: “Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that…of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support” (Reply to Baptist Address, 1807).

-Thomas Jefferson believed that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. He attempted to separate the ethical teachings of Jesus from the religious dogma and other supernatural elements that are intermixed in the four Gospels. He presented these teachings, along with the essential events of the life of Jesus, in one continuous narrative in what has come to be called “The Jefferson Bible.” It is important to see Jesus as an ethicist but He was much more than that. He was the Son of God and the Savior of the World.

Jamie Jenkins