Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Vermont who have to face widespread destruction in the wake of Hurrican Irene, though thankfully the calamity is not expected to rival that of Nov. 3 and 4, 1927, which still ranks as the worst natural disaster in the state’s history.
Touring his native state in Oct. 1928 to assess the progress of rebuilding, Calvin Coolidge coined the phrase “this brave little state of Vermont” in a memorable and poetic short speech he gave at Bennington:
My fellow Vermonters:
For two days we have been traveling through this state. We have been up the East side, across and down the West side. We have seen Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Windsor, White River Junction and Bethel. We have looked toward Montpelier. We have visited Burlington and Middlebury. Returning we have seen Rutland.
I have had an opportunity of visiting again the scenes of my childhood. I want to express to you, and through the press to the other cities of Vermont, my sincere appreciation for the general hospitality bestowed upon me and my associates on the occasion of this journey.
It is gratifying to note the splendid recovery from the great catastrophe which overtook the state nearly a year ago. Transportation has been restored. The railroads are in a better condition than before. The highways are open to traffic for those who wish to travel by automobile.
Vermont is a state I love. I could not look upon the peaks of
Ascutney, Killington, Mansfield, and Equinox, without being
moved in a way that no other scene could move me. It was here that I first saw the light of day; here I received my bride, here my dead lie pillowed on the loving breast of our eternal hills.
I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont.