If you’re a history buff like me, this is an exciting time to be a Missourian. Two hundred years as a state is a great milestone, and I hope each of you can find a way to celebrate those things that make us proud to be from the “Show-Me State.”
Missouri Celebrates Statehood Day
One of my favorite events took place on the west lawn of the capitol building. Two trees, an Overcup and a Quercus x “Jillian Ann Young” oak were dedicated as Missouri Bicentennial Native Oaks. Governor Parson, Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, and Representative Bruce Sassmann were joined by representatives of the University of Missouri Friends of the Mizzou Botanic Garden to dedicate the trees to the people of Missouri. The trees were planted earlier in the year in preparation for the ceremony held August 10.The summer heat would have been too stressful on the newly planted trees
The Quercus x Jillian is an unusual three-way cross between swamp white oak, bur oak and overcup oak. The species is named for Jillian Young, of Elsberry, who died in a car accident her senior year in high school before she could go to the University of Missouri in 2013.The two oak trees replace two ash trees which were most likely lost to the emerald ash borer.
Missourians from all parts of the state made the trip to Jefferson City on Tuesday, Aug. 10, to celebrate 200 years of statehood for the Show-Me State. The official celebration of Missouri’s Bicentennial Statehood Day is part of a series of events throughout the state meant to recognize Missouri’s rich history and promising future.
Federal and state officials were on hand to participate in the event that took place outside the Missouri State Capitol Building. Those in attendance heard performances by the Missouri National Guard's 135th Army Band, and the Missouri Choral Directors Association All-State Festival Choir. Attendees also heard Missouri’s Poet Laureate Maryfrances Wagner read her poem entitled “Missouri.” The poem can be viewed online at: https://www.missouriartscouncil.org/missouri-poet-laureate/.
The event was also an opportunity to unveil the new Missouri Statehood stamp. The stamp art features a photograph of Bollinger Mill State Historic Site. The photo shows the multi-story mill, which dates to the Civil War period, as well as the Burfordville Covered Bridge, Missouri’s oldest and one of just four remaining covered bridges in the state. For more information on the stamp, please visit https://store.usps.com/store/product/buy-stamps/missouri-statehood-S_481104.
During the event, Gary Kremer of the State Historical Society spoke about Missouri’s origins as it was admitted as the 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821. Kremer noted the state, which now has a population of more than 6 million, had a population of only 70,000 as it became a state. He also spoke about the compromise that was made to allow Maine to enter the union as a free state and Missouri as a slave state. Kremer noted an enduring consequence of that compromise was that race relations have been a central theme of Missouri history for more than 200 years. Kremer went on to say Missouri’s quest for statehood took longer than expected.
“A major reason that it took us so long to become a state is that we Missourians quarreled with the federal government; even threatening to secede before we had actually joined. A basic source of our unhappiness with the federal government then and now was that we Missourians don’t want the federal government telling us what to do,” he said.
The crowd also heard from Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Wilson, who said, “As I think about all that Missouri history includes and all that our history means, I'm proud. Not always of what happened or why —because Missouri and Missourians have our fair share of shortcomings — but I am proud that our history is what we made it, together.”
Governor Mike Parson wrapped up the event by speaking to the crowd about the importance of the special day.
He said, “Missouri citizens get to be part of this very special day, and there’s only going to be one of these days, and we get to be part of it. I encourage all of you to take a little time today to think about your own family, think about where you came from, your family history, your family tree, and find out what you’ve overcome in Missouri’s history, and why we’re so privileged to be Missourians, and why it’s an honor to be a fellow Missourian with all of you who are here today, and to celebrate a birthday like no other.”
The Governor also read a portion of the official proclamation he issued, which designates Aug. 10 as Statehood Day. His proclamation said, “Whereas the year 2021 marks the 200th anniversary of Missouri statehood and a collective hope that future Missourians will learn from its past and chart a dynamic and unified course for the future; now, therefore, I, Michael L. Parson, Governor of the Great State of Missouri, do hereby proclaim August 10, 2021, to be the Bicentennial Statehood Day for the State of Missouri.”
My family and I hope to see you at this year’s Missouri State Fair. As always, if you have questions, concerns, or input, please feel free to contact me at 573-751-0169, or you can reach my Legislator Assistant, June, at June.Cardwell@house.mo.gov.