Experience Indiana in its 200th year

KPC News Service

Indiana has begun a year-long celebration of its 200 years of history.

The party started Friday, which marked the state’s 199th birthday and the start of its 200th year of existence.

We hope Hoosiers will take advantage of the coming year to learn more about our state and explore its historic and natural treasures.

Too often over the years, Hoosiers have let the rest of the nation give us an inferiority complex. We hope that will go out of style in century number three.

Indiana gives us plenty of reason to be proud of our past, present and future, from the Michigan border to the Ohio River.

Our state offers a wide variety of geography, starting in the northeast corner with our sparkling lakes. Southern Indiana invites exploration of its scenic hills, typified by Brown County. In between lies the start of the nation’s breadbasket with central and western Indiana’s rich farming country. Our northwest corner features sandy beaches along Lake Michigan.

Our state park system provides dozens of opportunity to visit lakes, streams and even caves. The Bicentennial Nature Trust project is working to set aside even more natural sites. Private preservation groups such as ACRES Land Trust have reserved many other valuable properties for public enjoyment, and local landowners are becoming more aware of the opportunity to protect woods and marshes.

Indiana can be proud of its role as a place that makes quality products, from steel and automobiles to precision creations that replace parts of our human bodies.

Hoosiers play a major role in feeding America and the rest of the world with the produce of our farms. Our fields also provide fuel for vehicles with ethanol derived from corn.

Indiana educates the nation and world through outstanding public and private universities.

We entertain America with sporting events based in Indianapolis, which has transformed itself from a sleepy afterthought of a city into the lively home of Super Bowls and college sports championships.

In the year ahead, take a vacation to Indiana to celebrate our bicentennial. Visit that place you’ve always been curious about, but never took the time to see. It might be the covered bridges in Parke County or the Falls of the Ohio in the outdoor world, or the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Chances are, there’s an attraction even closer to home that you’ve been overlooking — maybe Pokagon State Park near Angola, the Gene Stratton Porter State Historic Site near Rome City, The Menno-Hof center at Shipshewana describing Amish and Mennonite life, or one of the automotive museums in Auburn.

Listen to the music of Hoosier composers Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter or jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery.

Read a book by an outstanding Hoosier author such as Kurt Vonnegut or Lew Wallace, creator of “Ben Hur.” Admire the war dispatches from legendary Indiana journalist Ernie Pyle. Check out a biography of a great Hoosier such as John Wooden or Abraham Lincoln (sorry, Illinois, we had him first).

In this 200th year of our state’s history, immerse yourself in the experience of Indiana. When you’re finished, you’ll be even more proud to call yourself a Hoosier.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.