There are two holidays this month that should not pass by unnoticed: Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21, and Kansas Day Jan. 26.
Although at face value they seem very different, in truth they are not. Both holidays mirror Americans’ fierce pride in their country, patriotism, independence and belief in freedom of speech.
Kansas was born of persistent emigrants, from the Swedish settlers near Lindsborg, Exodusters thru Quindaro and Topeka, and over-the-trail settlers who settled near Gardner, where the trails divide.
Freedom, and the right to free and independent expression, was important to all.
Kansas’ trip thru history has not always been amicable. During the Civil War, this area was dubbed “Bleeding Kansas” and tent cities would pop up over night between Edgerton and Gardner as slavery and anti-slavery settlements came and went.
Through the years, different cultural and ethnic groups have come and gone: Asians, Hispanics, Africans. Each time the groups have passed like a wave over the land before settling in and becoming part of the landscape.
Each group has brought with it strengths and weaknesses.
Martin Luther King day has been officially observed in all states since 2000. King was assassinated in 1968, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1983. King was active in the Civil Rights Movement which protested racial discrimination.
The first Kansas Day was celebrated more than 142 years ago, and the state has seen massive changes: population, technology, agriculture.
But one thing that has remained the same is the state’s deep patriotism and pride. Let’s celebrate it.