Celebrating Missouri's bicentennial year of statehood

This year marks Missouri's bicentennial -- 200 years of statehood. The official anniversary is Aug. 10.

Gary R. Kremer wrote a guest column for the Southeast Missourian in December and noted the State Historical Society is planning commemorations. But you don't have to wait until August to start thinking about this significant milestone.

The Southeast Missourian has been running a series of stories that profile major events in the Show-Me State's history. Reporter Jeff Long has interviewed Dr. Frank Nickell of the Kellerman Foundation for Historic Preservation and emeritus faculty member of Southeast Missouri State University. Some of the topics and famous Missourians covered so far include: Susan Blow, the founder of the nation's first public kindergarten; Alice Curtice Moyer Wing, a writer and activist in the women's suffrage movement; John S. Cobb School in Cape Girardeau, a Lincoln School established in the late 19th century; the Missouri mule, the state's official animal; the Pony Express; the Mormon order of 1838; Trail of Tears; the Missouri Compromise; and several prominent Missourians, including: Thomas Hart Benton, Mark Twain, Harry Truman and Stuart Symington.

If you missed these stories, you can find them online at semissourian.com.

Also of note is the bicentennial Paint for a Cause program, championed by local artists Aaron Horrell and Barb Baily. Horrell sketched the design of the 30-feet by 10-feet mural, and invited the public to contribute to the painting.

Thankfully, Horrell and Baily were hard at work on this effort before COVID-19 made mass gatherings nearly impossible over the last year. Even so, they've continued to find opportunities for individuals across the state to participate.

The mural recently made its way to Jefferson City for the final stretch of the tour where individuals could contribute to the work of art. The mural will be unveiled on July 4 in Cape Girardeau and is expected to be on display in our state Capitol.

The global pandemic has led to many challenges not to be dismissed, but we're reminded that it's but a short window in the long view of history. This bicentennial is an exciting time for our state. It's also a good opportunity to be reminded of key people and events that have shaped Missouri -- and our nation.

We look forward to celebrating 200 years of statehood later this year.