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As with much of history, most Missourians tend to take their state for granted. The 175th anniversary of statehood, however, offers an opportunity to reflect on the Show Me State's past. The anniversary passed with little fanfare last weekend.

Although 175 years have rolled by since Missouri was admitted to the Union as the 24th state, its people share many of the concerns of the state's founders. For example, high on the list of those early Missourians was an independent spirit that relied less on the federal government in Washington and more on the abilities and ambitions of the people who settled the first state west of the Mississippi River.

Throughout its history, Missouri has been the gateway to the settlement and expansion of the western United States. Thousands upon thousands of immigrant settlers relied on Missouri's waterways and trails to reach their dreams in untamed regions. St. Louis in particular welcomed the throngs who had little more than desire and a willingness to work hard to make those dreams come true. Kansas City and St. Joseph served as the jumping off points for settlers headed for the great Southwest, California and the northwestern areas that would become Oregon and Washington.

Happy birthday, Missouri. And best wishes for another 175 years.