Nebraska Turns 151

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Nebraska was too nice to purloin the “nice” slogan from Minnesota for long, but it is true the average Nebraskans you meet will go out of the way to help when you need it.

True, we were welcomed into the Union by the first U.S. president to be impeached, Andrew Johnson, and while Congress failed by one vote to remove him from office, Nebraska’s lawmakers succeeded in impeaching and removing from office the state’s first governor, David Butler.

We didn’t hold a grudge for long, however, and the Legislature expunged the impeachment proceedings from the record a few years later, and welcomed him into the State Senate on the Independent ticket in 1882.

He ran for governor on the Union Labor Ticket in 1888 for governor, but was defeated. Even then, Nebraska Nice only went so far.

Today marks the 151st anniversary of Nebraska entering the union, a couple of months after we wrapped up a year of celebrating our 150th birthday with various activities around the state. You can check out a special “Now You Know Nebraska” YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/2GODN1K, created through the efforts of Gov. Pete Ricketts and First Lady Susanne Shore.

If you grew up in the Cornhusker state, you probably remember some of the highlights of Nebraska history — early trappers, the Gold Rush of 1849, the Mormon Trail, the Oregon Trail, Pony Express and construction of the transcontinental railroad.

Later, World War II bombers were built in Omaha and based around the state in places like McCook, and we became home to our nation’s nuclear deterrence Cold War bombers commanded from Bellevue and nuclear missiles based in the Panhandle.

We’re proud of being home to famous writers like Willa Cather and John G. Neihardt, as well as talk show hosts like Dick Cavett and, of course, Johnny Carson.

Speaking of the latter, remember one of his frequent guests, Joan Embery who brought in mischievous animals from the San Diego Zoo?

Today, that famous California zoo has nothing on the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, with its famous aquarium, indoor rain forest and Desert Dome.

We may not be the wealthiest state, but many individuals who are owe it to the wisdom of Omaha’s Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the world who now spends much of his time giving his money to charity.

Austin, Texas, may pride itself on being weird, but has a ways to go to keep up with Alliance’s Carhenge monument, home to one of last summer’s best eclipse celebrations.

We don’t have an NFL or NBA pro team, but we do have Cornhusker football, something even better.

Neither do we have fully professional baseball, but most fans would argue that Omaha’s annual College World Series is even better.

And, while expensive cuisine may be rare, we have founded unique culinary experiences such as Dorothy Lynch Salad dressing, Runza Restaurants (featuring Miller & Paine cinnamon rolls), and Omaha Steaks.

And, those miles and miles of cornfields help us maintain another top export, generously marbled steaks and porkchops.

Bored with your West Coast weather?

Spend a few months in Nebraska, where you’ll be pushing your snow boots aside to find your flip-flops and pondering whether it’s time to gas up the lawnmower or the snow blower.

Nebraska could easily lay claim to Montana’s “Big Sky Country” motto, sans the mountains, because of our spectacular sunsets, and water sports activities rival other states — is it true Nebraska has more freshwater shoreline than any other? Lake McConaughy’s waters reach to the horizon and beyond.

And those are only a few of the minor points that make Nebraska, truly, “The Good Life.”

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