Kentuckians celebrate state’s birthday


Derby day at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff

Bailey Vandiver

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear Kentucky, happy birthday to you…

Today, Kentuckians celebrate the 225-year anniversary of our commonwealth becoming an official part of the United States.

Today, Kentuckians remember their past – to celebrate all that makes our state our old Kentucky home.

We remember a state that joined a country just over a decade old.

We remember a state known for naming and making bourbon – so much bourbon that the barrels outnumber the people.

We remember the first Saturday of every May, when all eyes are on the state of Kentucky.

We remember the month of March, when basketball teams representing our Commonwealth consistently find success.

We remember the lyrics to “My Old Kentucky Home,” and every UK sporting event concluded with its playing.

We must also remember that Kentucky is not perfect – we remember that while Kentucky never seceded during the Civil War, it was torn apart between the Union and the Confederacy.

We must remember that slave markets were once found in the cities that now prize diversity.

But most importantly, on a day that commemorates our past, we should look to the future of the Bluegrass State.

The name “Kentucky” has been traced to Native American origins, with several native languages it could be from and several possible meanings. The worst of them – “dark and bloody ground.”

But the best meaning, taken from the Iroquois word “kent-tah-ten,” means “land of tomorrow.”

The rest of the country does not see Kentucky as the land of tomorrow. One columnist even wrote recently that if the United States were a business, Kentucky, one of the worst states in his eyes, should be shut down.

No one can deny that Kentucky has economic and health problems. But has that columnist ever walked among the Kentucky bluegrass, or visited the laboratories and classrooms at the dozens of Kentucky higher education institutions? Has he driven up an Appalachian mountain, or taken a tour at the National Corvette Museum? Has he sipped a mint julep at the Derby or traveled the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?

Kentucky has plenty to be proud of today, and Kentuckians display that pride by the Kentucky-shaped t-shirts, stickers and more that have become so popular.

Kentuckians are proud today, on Kentucky’s 225th birthday, and even more, we are working toward what we will be proud of tomorrow, in our land.