Thursday, November 15, 2007

Happy 100th Birthday OKLAHOMA!

On April 22, 1889 the middle portion of our state was opened up at the exact minute of NOON - it was opened to anyone and everyone who could, if they had the heart to do it, stake a claim and get their claim to the make-shift office in the center of the middle section, the city was called Guthrie. April 22, 1889 is often mistaken in history as being the real birthdate of the 46th State, but it is not. That day goes down in history as the Opening of the Unassigned Lands - Pioneer Day is what we call it here in Oklahoma.

November 16, 1907 found Guthrie, Oklahoma bustling, full of people, full of celebration, new buildings and crowded streets as they welcomed the visiting President of the United States, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt! That day marked the day that Roosevelt wrote Oklahoma into the Union as the 46th state, and Guthrie was our state capital...for a little while. If you're from Texas you may never know the trouble it took to get the capital seal moved to Oklahoma City, and you may never understand that being called a Sooner was a bad thing - back then...not now!

If I could take a minute to list a few real Oklahomans that have made a difference in our state, you'd be surprised who I'd pick. Oh, I'd name the famous ones; Toby, Rita, Garth, Vince, Carrie, The Flaming Lips, The All American Rejects, Color Me Badd, and about a million other singers. You can't name off famous Oklahomans without mentioning Shannon Miller, Shannon Lucid, Paul Harvey, James Garner, Ben Johnson, or Wilma Mankiller, but did you have any idea that Tony Randall and Brad Pitt were Oklahomans? Did you know Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys was an Okie? (Just as Sam Bradford is!) Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench, and of course, Jim Thorpe, so you can see that Shannon Miller is among the best when you say "Oklahoma athletes"; and that's without having to mention all the college athletes who have brought our state several National Championships. Yes, we're rich in that part of American History.

Don't forget - Oklahoma has only been around 100 years - we've had good guys and bad guys (and girls) coming through to make their mark: Bonnie and Clyde were from Oklahoma, Belle Starr, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bill Doolin, Bill Dalton, and we can't possibly forget Elmer McCurdy, but he wasn't born in Oklahoma like Native America folk hero and/or legendary criminal (depends on how you look at it) Ned Christie. We had the lawmen too, most of the really famous lawmen were born elsewhere, but called Oklahoma home; men like Chris Madson, Bill Tilghman, Heck Thomas, and Oh, my favorite, Mr. Temple Houston!

Yes, Oklahoma is one rich and enterprising state, that's for sure. I'd say we rally any other state when it comes to bold, enterprising, stand-up-and-fight-em-til-the-end kind of maverick citizens. We're like that. We Okies are a crude, but beautiful breed for sure. We'll wait until the very last seconds to get into the storm shelters during a tornado just to compare this one with the last one. It's true, we do that. We vy for parking spots in the shade no matter how far we have to walk, and yes, you'll see us screaming our collective, impassioned guts out at each other over whether it should be crimson and creme or orange and black on any given matter about any given subject on each and every day...but that's just us. Don't think another 100 years is going to resolve anything relating to that issue - that one started before statehood; with the run of 1889.

Oh, I almost forgot - Oklahoma is the home state of the WORLD's ONLY bipedal dog that just happens to be famous as well as inspirational. She embodies everything necessary to be an Okie. She's strong, courageous, outstanding in her field, she's unique, charasmatic, striking in both appearance and memorable. Am I upset that she wasn't invited to appear on stage with the others - well, to be honest -- yes, but since she doesn't know she's a mirale dog, and since she's got work to do tomorrow with some really cool soldiers at the airport - I'll let it slide. However, at the bicentienal, someone had better mention her being from Edmond, Oklahoma! It's only fitting.

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