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A lasting bicentennial celebration

A lasting bicentennial celebration
A lasting bicentennial celebration
Boy Scout Troop 412 presents the colors at Saturday's bicentennial celebration in Corydon. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

The ceremony on the grounds of the First State Capitol courtyard Saturday was a ‘wow.’ There is nothing that signifies the delights of living in a small town better than a community festival and no place on earth does it better than Corydon, Ind.
From the founding of the town in 1808, the ‘Court Yard’ has been the hub of our social and commercial activity. Think of the events in your life that have taken place in this historic landmark that lies at the center of our hometown. I can close my eyes and see the small American flags on Memorial Day shining in the filtered sunlight beneath the tall trees. We place them in rows to remember those who gave their lives for our country. Other times we can recall the sobering sight of the mud-caked grass after a flooding of our creeks. On a warm summer’s evening, we gather in playfulness at band concerts and watched the recent batch of small children experience the freedom of dancing in the open air surrounded by their family and friends. And oh, the thrill of seeing Santa Claus arriving in a beautiful carriage to meet those who believe in the power of hope at Christmas. We celebrate our diversity with an annual international fair that brings us together for better understanding, exciting music and a cornucopia of yummy food.
Yes, the First State Capitol courtyard is where it all began in Indiana, and it remains our place of happenings today. It was a heartwarming experience to be part of adding yet another memory to ‘our special place.’ The bicentennial memorial service was a modern-day Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post magazine cover: patriotic band music, barbershop vocal harmony, ice cream, speeches, awards and remembering. I guess I would sum it up by describing it as a homecoming of old friends as well as new in a place that is special. In this day and age of involvement by remote control, that is not a bad thing to stop and do once in a while. It helps remind us why we do all this ‘up and at ’em’ stuff in the first place.
The memorial that depicts Frank as a community leader is overwhelming to me. There are literally hundreds of folks who could have been remembered and held up as examples of how leaders are created by community and family. Think of the family names that are commonly heard in our county. Names that have been worn by generations of people who have built and continue to develop this place we call home. Read the list of those who signed our state’s first constitution on this spot and see the names you still hear in our businesses and churches.
It is lamentable that we could not erect monuments that depict all who have provided leadership over the past 200 years. But wait a minute! Maybe we really can. How about a county museum? It is time we joined our heads and resources to create such a museum in Southern Indiana. Often the only way we have of knowing those who have gone before us is by the things they have left behind. Artifacts we have stored in our attics and basements can bring us in contact with the remarkable people who developed our part of the state. We share a common human nature with people of all times and places, but we do have a unique Harrison County story to tell. We want to learn from the past in order to continue making a better future.
Museums of today aren’t dimly lit, boring places that feature moth-eaten old clothes and musty stuffed critters. They are fun! Yes, even county museums are interactive places where you can experience events with people of the past and present that prompt us to ask what it all means for the future.
It may all look daunting, but there are a lot of places to explore and get advice. I’ve been in terrific small museums all over our state and have seen how people just like us have garnered the resources of expertise, money, space, artifacts and volunteers to make it happen. And do you know what? All those with whom I came in contact personally felt as though the experience of putting the museum together had been a gift for them.
The bicentennial celebration may appear to be closing, but perhaps the real celebration has just begun. There is no limit to where we can go when we go together.