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Ideas wanted for SD's 125th birthday


"Where horses traveled dusty trails, fancy cars now drive on super highways. Where one-room cabins used to stand, modern high-rise buildings line the skyways. Where there once was just a mountain, today there are faces carved in stone and they represent the freedom of this South Dakota land we call home."

Those words are the first verse of the "Celebrate the Century" song written by Kyle Evans for South Dakota's 100th birthday in 1989.

In 2014, our state will be 25 years older, and recognizing that milestone provides us an opportunity to learn about South Dakota history and be inspired to create an even better South Dakota for the today, tomorrow and generations to come.

In 1989, more than 300 cities and towns formed local committees to sponsor special Centennial celebrations often included parades, all-school reunions and lasting legacy projects like restoring historic buildings, creating veterans memorials, upgrading local museums, planting trees, creating new community centers, renovating libraries, burying time capsules, writing histories of towns or counties and building new swimming pools, parks and playgrounds. Some places even erected street signs -- a first for their communities.

Statewide organizations and associations also did special projects, such as sponsoring history books, giving grants to local and state projects, honoring 100-year-old businesses and creating historic themes for their annual meetings.

Many schools emphasized South Dakota history during the school year by upgrading curricula and holding special assemblies.

To seek ideas for possible activities for 2014, Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed a nine-person commission to brainstorm ideas and accept public input.

So far, people have suggested art and photography exhibits and books, daily postings of South Dakota history on social media, joint events and projects with North Dakota, creating a commemorative coin, promotion of cowboy poetry and having a wagon train from Yankton to Pierre.

I invite everyone to submit more ideas by visiting the 125th Anniversary of South Dakota Statehood website at or by emailing your ideas to People can also testify at the commission's second meeting Wednesday, Sept. 18, in Pierre, or call 605-773-5689 any time during the business day.

If you have any ideas, please don't hesitate to send them. They will be welcomed and appreciated.

Jim Larson, of Sioux Falls, is the chairman of the South Dakota 125th Anniversary Commission.