Kansas Today is Jan. 29 and that, as most Kansas school children will know, is Kansas Day which celebrates our wonderful Sunflower State’s birthday. Today the 156th year since we were admitted into the union in 1861.
Students may also know that our statehood didn’t come easily. Those were dark times in America as a fractured nation stood on the verge of the Civil War.
In fact, the Bloody Kansas era which pitted abolitionists in the Kansas territory against pro-slavery forces was the catalyst that ignited that horrendous conflict. Indeed, we were truly a divided nation and took four years of carnage to arrive at level of reconciliation.
Many see us as a divided nation now. They see the regional disparities and racial conflicts that erupted into the Civil War as still smouldering to this day.
True, we have our differences. But we are far from the brink of war.
This Thursday, newspaper publishers, editors and reporters will gather in Topeka (for those who don’t know much about the state, that is the capitol) for the Kansas Press Association’s Day at the Legislature. It is an opportunity to meet with lawmakers and state leaders, hear about what happening and impress upon them the importance of newspapers.
Newspapers stoked the slavery debate fires in the 1850s and 60s. Today, as we gather at the Statehouse, we will be working to bring the state together.
Sure, there have been problems in Kansas recently. From budget woes to efforts to keep public notices out of print publications, we have our differences.
But, we live in a state where, despite the challenges, we can still meet with officials for civil discourse. We still have access to those we elect to represent us. One can only hope this catches on at the national level.
Over the course of the next few days, children will take part in special activities involving our state flag, bison and sunflowers. They should also celebrate what a great state this is. We should all join them in this observation.