Today marks Indiana’s 199th year as a state and my 1 ½ year anniversary as a Hoosier. As we celebrate these kind of occasions, it is nice to reflect on all the smaller moments and events that led to this point. I am usually big on the celebration part and less on the reflection, but especially since we are just one year away from the big 2-0-0, this seemed like an appropriate time to begin the list of “Indiana Greats” over the last 199 years. Since President James Madison approved the admission of Indiana into statehood (#19, so take that, Mississippi, Illinois, and Alabama!), the state capitol moved to Indianapolis and the population and production grew dramatically.
As a state government person, sometimes Indiana gets lost in the conversation simply because it isn’t an extreme on many things. We aren’t the biggest nor smallest state, in terms of population (16th out of 50 states) or geography (38th)…we don’t have the largest/smallest/weirdest state legislature (if you were wondering, the largest is New Hampshire’s with 424—no, I did not mistype, it is four hundred and twenty four, count ‘em, legislators. Nebraska has the smallest state legislature with only 49 seats and also wins my vote for the most unusual state assembly, as it is both unicameral and nonpartisan.)…Indiana is (usually) not in the news and that is (usually) a good thing.
Still, it seems unfair that our great state is often overlooked because we aren’t outrageously terrible or unusually unique. Today we celebrate the contributions of the Hoosier state and remind everyone why Indiana is such a wonderful state. This list is far from exhaustive but will be the beginning of a running tally that I want to expand upon for the bicentennial celebration next year.
(What does one do for a 200th birthday? Is it like a quadruple “golden” anniversary? Do you go for the extra wide sheetcake out of fear all tiny 200 candles won’t fit? I guess I have one year to figure that out…)
In the last 199 years, Indiana has…
… inspired movies, including two of my favorite
Hoosiers (My father forced me to watch this many times as a child, along with Pistol Pete. I think he was trying to subconsciously inspire my athletic talent but as I was a) not interested in basketball and c) not growing up in the 1950s/1960s, this little to cultivate my potential sports career.)
Now and Then, aka the coming of age film that included arguably the best soundtrack and coolest retro clothes.
…and at least one amazing television show
Parks and Recreation, one of my all-time favorites because it focuses on local government and the bureaucracy, two of the most influential, yet often disregarded segments of government.
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
…gave America popcorn* (*I am not entirely sure Indiana is to credit for this, but I think it deserves at least a mention since Orville Redenbacher is a state native.)
…began and still hosts the Indianapolis 500
…provided the US one of its presidents, Benjamin Harrison
…and Vice Presidents, Dan Quale
…served as home for a professional football team, the Indianapolis Colts (who truly have the world’s cutest mascot—seriously, an adorable, My-Little-Pony look-alike named Blue? If I knew that when I was a kid, the Colts would have always been my favorite team.)
…and TWO professional basketball teams, the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever.
I am sure there are roughly one million more "firsts" and "greats" that I have inexcusably omitted from the list but I have a mountain of grading and a dog who wants to enjoy the beautiful weather. In short, you are pretty awesome, Indiana. Happy Birthday, Hoosier state! You don’t look a day over 100! ;-)