The year 2011 should be an important one in Lawrence’s history.
A group of Lawrence residents will get together next week to discuss 2011 and how the community may throw a grand party at Sesquicentennial Point to celebrate Kansas’ 150th birthday.
We applaud the group for being forward-looking, and we encourage interested residents to attend the meeting — set for 3 p.m. Thursday at the public library.
But we also urge the community to think even bigger.
In addition to 2011 being the 150th birthday for the state, the year also marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. Civil War.
No community in America should have more to say about that occasion than Lawrence.
The Civil War flows through the veins of Lawrence. We are a unique community in America because we are a city that was founded not on commerce. We are a city founded on conviction — the conviction that slavery should be abolished.
It was a conviction that captured the attention of a nation. All serious sets of eyes in America were focused on eastern Kansas and western Missouri in the late 1850s. A great question hung over the country. The events that would take place in the hills and valleys surrounding Lawrence would go far in answering it: Would the institution of slavery embark on a westward march?
It did not. It was here that slavery met its brick wall. It did so because it was here that beliefs first turned to blood.
We are excited that our area now has a group — the leadership of the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area — that will work to tell that story everyday. It is important work.
But it seems that such a story should have a special day on the national stage. We believe now is the time for community leaders to come together and begin planning and advocating for such a day.
Lawrence and the area should strive to be the center of national attention once again. The community ought to come together and do something that will cause the nation to take notice of the unique role this area played in one of the most pivotal moments in American history.
Who knows what such a day may entail? Perhaps, Lawrence would play host to a Presidential address. Maybe, the community would stage a gala that would serve as the kickoff to the national commemoration. Or, likely, it is an idea that we haven’t thought of yet. But if we vow to put our minds to it, we’ll come up with the idea.
After all, this area has certainly sparked a grand idea before.