By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
A spur of Lafayette Street was renamed “201st Artillery Drive” this year.
The road leads to the new Armed Forces Readiness Center, where the 201st members train.
The 1st Battalion, 201st Field Artillery is the oldest continuously active military service unit in the United States and has been in service since Feb. 17, 1735.
Because “201st Artillery Drive” involves a state road, in order to name it the City of Fairmont needed to pass a resolution requesting the West Virginia Legislature make the change.
Jay Rogers, Fairmont city manager, said that city council put forward that request on Dec. 11, 2012, prior to the 2013 West Virginia legislative session.
“There is a long history of the honor of the 201st,” Rogers said. “And the roadway to the readiness center reflects that.”
Having the road to the readiness center named after the 201st is very fitting, Rogers said.
“It’s where they do their daily operations,” Rogers said. “It has facilities for training and allows them to prepare for deployments and other military operations and activities.”
Naming the new road came up as the construction of the readiness center was being completed. However, while Fairmont waited for the Legislature to approve the change, the street still needed a name.
“It had to have an address to have utilities set up,” Rogers said. So, until the House of Delegates passed House Concurrent Resolution 33, the road was known simply as “Lafayette Street Extension.”
Lt. Col. David Shafer, construction and facilities management officer for the West Virginia Army National Guard, said that the original name request came from members of the 201st themselves.
“When we build facilities, if we have the opportunity to name the road, we try to make it symbolic for the unit,” Shafer said. “It came in through discussion with the unit, and we made the request.”
HCR-33 was co-sponsored by Delegates Mike Caputo, Linda Longstreth and Tim Manchin, and outlines the contributions and history of the 201st.
“History records that Gen. George Washington was so impressed during his travels through ‘Western Virginia’ that upon discussion of forming a Continental Army he immediately knew that he would form it with soldiers from this area, and George Washington is quoted as saying, ‘Let me plant my banner in West Augusta and I will surround it with fighting men who will drive the invaders from our land,’” the resolution said.
The resolution goes on to recognize that the 201st has fought during every major United States military campaign since the Revolutionary War, with the exception of the Vietnam War. It also recognizes that the 201st National Guard unit “has answered valiantly every call from the State of West Virginia during emergencies and disasters which have taken place both within and without her borders.”
It states that: “It is fitting to dedicate a public reminder that soldiers who have worn and continue to wear the colors of the 201st have provided and continue to provide outstanding examples of selfless service.”
Morgantown also has a road named after the 201st, the 201st Memorial Way, which runs from Suncrest to the Mileground.
Email Colleen S. Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.