Sunday, January 29, 2006
Happy Birthday, Kansas!
"O Give Me a Home
Where the Buffalo Roam,
Where the Deer and the Antelope Play...
Where Seldom is Heard
A Discouraging Word,
And the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day."
Today my beloved Kansas celebrates her 145th birthday. In 1861 she was the 34th state to take up residence in this great nation.
As a child, Kansas Day was celebrated by making booklets about our state's symbols: the Cottonwood, Meadowlark, Sunflower and Buffalo. My favorite was the Kansas flag: a navy blue background housing the state seal where a farmer plows his field, covered wagons blaze across green, prairie grasses and a beautiful sunset introduces 34 bright stars. A banner at the top reads, "Ad Astra Per Aspera" - To the Stars Through Difficulties. I would painstakingly color the intricate lines and shapes and feel proud that I came from the rural heritage of this land.
When my own children were small we would make sugar cookies shaped like Sunflowers and talk about the beginnings of the state we call home. January 29th is a date that is embedded in our minds like any other important birthday in our lives, and I suspect it will always stay that way.
"The Sunflower State", "Jayhawkers", "The Bread Basket of the World", "The Air Capital". We have many names and wear many hats, but our best and truest asset is our people. We are the scarecrow who learned to think, the tin man who found his heart among friends, the lion who gained courage along the way.... all wrapped up in ordinary folks who know what it means to reach for the stars through difficult times. And though Dorothy Gale was a fictional character who took an infamous trip to Oz, she certainly had it right when she said, "There's no place like home".