A year ago today, Kansas was celebrating 150 years of statehood.
The excitement may be lost on us today, but it is still Kansas Day, a good time to remember what has made our state a great place to live — our people.
For example, there are Amelia Earhart, Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech and Walter Chrysler.
Or if you’re not into transportation, consider Mary Bickerdyke, Carry Nation and Drs. Karl, Will, and C.F. Menninger, if you are more interested in social development.
William Coleman, whose gas lamp has provided life saving light around the planet, Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the planet, Pluto, and our own Jack Kilby, who helped bring the world the modern computer, all contributed hugely to the world of science.
Not to mention Omar Knedlik, the inventor of the frozen carbonated drink machine that made history by making the ICEE possible in the early 1960s.
That doesn’t even touch on Bob Dole, Dwight Eisenhower, Charlie Parker, William Inge, Hattie McDaniel, Zasu Pitts, Damon Runyon, Vivian Vance, George Washington Carver, Glenn Cunningham, John Steuart Curry, Gordon Parks, Oscar Micheaux — the list just keeps on growing.
Of course, there is no way to list all those Kansans who made this world a better place due to their life’s work.
One we do know about is Father Emil Kapaun, the Army chaplain who ministered to his men in a North Korean POW camp until the brutal treatment and abuse finally cost him his life.
Kansas takes a lot of abuse from much of the more worldly parts of our nation, but we should pay attention to what we have given to this culture, whether it recognizes our contributions or not.
Our legacy is our people and so is our future.
Kansas has been the breeding ground of greatness and it will continue to be such if we remain true to our heritage and to our motto:
Ad Astra per Aspera — To the stars through difficulties.
— Chuck Smith