Tuesday will mark the 149th anniversary of one of the most notable events in Lawrence history: Quantrill’s Raid.
Also on Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission is expected to approve the creation of an advisory committee to plan how to commemorate the 150th anniversary of that notorious raid. A year is not too much time to plan an appropriate remembrance.
The raid that killed 180 Lawrence men and boys certainly is nothing to celebrate, but it was a pivotal event for Lawrence and a part of a significant border war history leading up to the Civil War. That history is attracting more attention in recent years, and the 150th anniversary is a wonderful opportunity to share that story with both local residents and visitors to the community.
The resolution on the commission’s consent agenda calls for the creation of a committee with nine Douglas County residents who represent a broad range of interests and an understanding of local history. The group will be charged with making recommendations to the city concerning a schedule of events for the Quantrill anniversary.
Groups like the Douglas County Historical Society and Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage already have been gearing up for this anniversary and should play a role in the city’s overall planning. Historical groups in other parts of the county are focused on various stories related to the raid and need to be included. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges will be to schedule and coordinate the many activities that are likely to be part of this commemoration.
Another challenge, of course, will be to strike the right tone for the anniversary, something that both mourns and respects those who died and celebrates those who survived and rebuilt Lawrence from the ashes. In many ways, the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of those survivors has determined the kind of city Lawrence is today.
Some sort of tangible and lasting tribute — a piece of art or a dedicated space — would be a good way to commemorate the anniversary, but using the occasion to share the story of Quantrill’s Raid and the events that surrounded that raid also could be a way to inspire local residents and build pride in our community and its significant history.
The city’s advisory committee is a good way to get the ball rolling toward a commemoration that will have a lasting legacy for Lawrence.