By James Polston
INDIANAPOLIS—State leaders preached that history is happening now to a gathering of fourth graders as Indiana celebrated its 202nd birthday.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, along with Chief Justice Loretta Rush and other leaders, welcomed youngsters from schools across Indiana to celebrate Statehood Day Tuesday under the dome of the capitol.
Following a song played on bagpipes by Doug Hardwick, the presentation of the colors by the Indy Metropolitan Memorial Color Guard and the national anthem sung by the Plainfield Belles and Beaux Choir, the governor said this is one of his favorite celebrations of the year.
Chief Justice Loretta Rush asks students to take an oath to graduate from high school and to never do drugs at the Statehood Day celebration. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com
Holcomb mentioned a few of Indiana’s historic figures like astronaut Neil Armstrong, who graduated from Purdue, and basketball great Larry Bird and then said Indiana’s birthday is about more than the past.
“It’s not just about the history,” Holcomb said. “You are making your own history.”
Holcomb said he is excited about the future of Indiana as he looks at the students in the state.
“You think of all the opportunities you have and it’s because of this state that’s people-powered and that means you,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb told the students to pursue what they are most passionate about in life, be true to themselves and listen to their teachers.
“I’m just so glad you’re Hoosiers,” Holcomb said.
Rush said the state of Indiana is lucky.
“In this building, all three branches of government are here, not a lot of states are like that,” Rush said, adding that government is here for them. “Everything that goes on in this building is for you. This is your house.”
At the end of her speech, Rush had the students raise their right hands and make a promise.
“I (the student’s names), promise Gov. Holcomb and Chief Justice Rush that I will graduate from high school and never do drugs,” the children repeated.
Gov. Eric Holcomb presents the winner of the Statehood Day essay contest Mylee Sinn with an Indiana flag and a certificate. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com
Lesley Crane, a commissioner at the Indiana Department of Administration, told the students it’s a nice change for the adults that work in the Statehouse to see their smiling faces.
“It reminds us that serving Hoosiers, especially young Hoosiers, is a real privilege,” Crane said.
The Statehood Day essay winner, Mylee Sinn of Rensselaer, was given a state flag and certificate from Holcomb, a medal from Rush and a $250 529 College Choice Scholarship from State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell.
Students also had the opportunity to see both Indiana Constitutions, the first written in 1816 and the second from 1851, that are removed from the archives each year. They will be displayed in the rotunda at the Indiana Statehouse until the end of the 2019 legislative session.
James Polston is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.