By Wendy Holdren
Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick visited the UC-Beckley library Tuesday to discuss the importance of citizenship, such as serving jury duty, voting and being active in your community.
UC-Beckley President Dr. Jerry Forster welcomed everyone to the event, which was part of Civic Awareness Month.
Forster gave an overview of Kirkpatrick’s education, his career and his extensive list of civic accomplishments.
“Judge Kirkpatrick walks the talk,” Forster said. “We’re very appreciative to have him here today.”
Kirkpatrick began his presentation with an excerpt from President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
“This is one of the most memorable inaugural speeches, which had a compact message of hope,” Kirkpatrick said. “It was a call to national commitment and hope.”
He said over the years, our view of citizenship has become skewed.
“We expect the government to shoulder what should be our own responsibilities.”
He said we have become more focused on “the pursuit of happiness” than life and liberty and the need to protect those rights and freedoms.
Jury duty, voting and performing community service are three of the most important parts of citizenship, Kirkpatrick said, and he urged everyone to take part.
He also encouraged everyone to donate blood, observe court proceedings, attend city council and board of education meetings, visit the Raleigh County Veterans Museum, send care packages overseas, attend legislative sessions in Charleston, volunteer in election campaigns and participate in the organ donor program.
Kirkpatrick also suggested the movie “Pay It Forward,” which he said is an excellent movie that depicts helping others in need. He said there is also a novel of the same name.
He ended his address with a quote from Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Kirkpatrick, a Woodrow Wilson High School graduate, received his bachelor’s in history from the University of Kentucky and his law degree from West Virginia University.
He first joined a Pineville law firm, then opened a practice in Beckley. He has served as a circuit court judge since 1995 and was re-elected in 1996, 2000 and 2008.
He has also served the community as president of the Central Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce and Beckley Lion’s Club, Pineville Town Council, Bank of Raleigh Board of Directors and as chairman of the Beckley College and College of West Virginia Board of Trustees.
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