Celebrating 200 Years of Missouri Statehood

Dear Friend,

On August 10, 1821, Missouri became the 24th state to enter the union. At the time, fewer than 150,000 folks called this frontier land home. While many things have changed over the last 200 years—including the number of families working, living, and growing here in our great state—one thing hasn’t changed: our no-nonsense attitude and penchant for getting things done.

It’s no wonder we earned the moniker the “Show Me State,” because we see right through all the noise and call things like we see them. It’s a trait we’ve seen in our leaders, like President Harry S. Truman, who famously displayed a sign on his desk in the White House proclaiming, “the buck stops here!”

It wasn’t just a catchy slogan, but words he lived by. Just a few months prior to receiving the sign, Truman made the difficult decision to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He didn’t try to shirk the responsibility or pass the buck. He knew the decision was his and he owned it. He made the tough choice because he knew it would end the war, saving countless lives that would have otherwise been lost in a bloody invasion of the Japanese mainland.

It’s that same spirit we’ve seen embodied in countless famous Missourians over the years, from dreamers like Walt Disney who turned a knack for drawing cartoons into a media empire, to the literal giant Mark Twain whose works “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” have become staples of American literature.

Perhaps none have embodied this spirit quite as much as Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing. Born in the small town of Laclede, Pershing went on to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point and eventually taking command of the entire American Expeditionary Force during World War I. In September of 1919, Congress authorized President Wilson to promote Pershing to “General of the Armies of the United States,” the highest rank possible for any member of the United States Armed Forces in recognition of his efforts leading U.S. Forces in World War I.

This spirit isn’t just embodied by these giants of American history, but by all Missourians. It’s the same spirit that lives within all of us—in teachers, doctors, farmers, and small business owners. These everyday working Missourians aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel (although sliced bread was invented in Chillicothe), but they’ve built this state into our home today through their blood, sweat, and tears. So, as we celebrate 200 years of Missouri history, let’s celebrate the icons that made Missouri famous, but let’s also celebrate the forgotten men and women that got us here.


Sam Graves