Bicentennial Celebration: ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ takes center stage
Many of CIC’s board members and friends were featured the interfaith Indiana Bicentennial Celebration of Statehood Day on December 11. The Star reports:
BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION:‘Hoosier Hospitality’ takes center stage
Dignitaries look back, but most of their thoughts are about state’s future
Justin L. Mack
Indiana’s 200th birthday celebration Sunday at the State Fairgrounds included plenty of praise for the past, but the message of the event was firmly rooted in the future.
One by one, speakers from a variety of backgrounds, faiths and professions took the stage at Indiana Farmers Coliseum to discuss what’s next for the Hoosier State. They spoke of making advancements, reaching new highs and continuing the traditions that make Indiana special.
To do that, it will fall on the shoulders of the next generation of Hoosiers. During her time at the podium, Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, the first woman to be ordained in Reconstructionist Judaism, shared what young people want out of Indiana’s next chapter.
She said they want education and economic opportunities, equality for men and women, and an environment free of the fear of violence. They want bullying, intimidation and hateful words or actions to end. They want to push forward in areas such as science, not for new gadgets, but to develop things that will lead to a better quality of life.
But above all else, the next generation wants the best for everyone who steps foot into the state.
“Our young people want ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ to extend to everyone, regardless of race, gender identity, ethnicity or religion, and to wrap its arms around diversity while uniting us in bonds of responsible citizenship,” she said. “As we enter our third century, let us learn from the past, affirm the present and shape the future. Let the waters
of Wabash wash away willful antagonisms. Let the sands of the Indiana dunes bury old grudges … let the bridges of Madison County carry us safely over the divides. Rural and urban. Rich and poor. Young and old. Black and white. Immigrant and native born.
“And let Indiana limestone soften our resistance to change and build monuments to human dignity.”
Sasso’s message was one of many presented Sunday morning at “Ignite the Future,” the culmination of the state’s yearlong bicentennial celebration held on the day President James Madison signed a congressional resolution making Indiana the nation’s 19th state in 1816.
Billed as a birthday celebration, Ignite The Future at its heart was a multifaith gathering open to the public that blended speakers with entertainment.
Just a few of more than a dozen speakers were Aarti Shah, chief information officer at Eli Lilly and Co.; minister Douglas Hairston of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Indianapolis; David S. Kinard, president for Indianapolis North Stake Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints; and Tenzin Namgyal, who was representing Hoosier Tibetans.
Special addresses were also made by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the state’s governor, and Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb, who spoke with pride and excitement about the journey into Indiana’s next century.
Pence began his remarks by taking a moment to highlight the state’s yearlong march toward Sunday, including over 1,500 legacy projects and a torch relay touching all 92 Indiana counties. He finished by declaring the best is yet to come.
“I’ve long believed you can’t know how far you go unless you think about how far you’ve come. That’s what this year has been all about,” Pence said. “I can tell you, having traveled all across this country applying for another job over the last six months, that Indiana is today, in our 200th year, synonymous with everything that is good and strong about America. Hard work, community, generosity, stewardship of the land, family and faith. And every Hoosier should be proud.”
Holcomb said that pride extended to Pence and his wife, Karen, who will take Hoosier values to Washington, D.C. He also talked about togetherness being the key to a brighter future, and as a way to practice working together, Holcomb led everyone in attendance in wishing Indiana a happy 200th birthday.
“Together we will build that better place with strong Hoosier values of family and work and home and community,” he said. “We will make our forebearers proud. And we will make that path easier and smoother for those who follow.” Handling hosting duties for the day was Hunter Smith, the former Indianapolis Colts punter and front man for the Hunter Smith Band. Along with bringing out speakers, Smith introduced the event’s multiple musical contributors before closing the show with his band.
Other acts included the Indiana Children’s Choir, Grammywinning opera singer Angela Brown, the Voices of Unity Youth Choir and members of the IU Jacobs School of Music.
Smith also talked about Indiana’s great musical history, which included legends such as Michael Jackson, John Mellencamp — and Peyton Manning?
“One of these does not belong,” Smith sang in the familiar Nationwide Insurance commercial jingle, a shout-out to his former teammate that drew laughs from the crowd.
Kanwal Parkash Singh, founder of KP Singh Designs and member of The Sikh Choir of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, spoke with gratitude about the nearly 50 years he has spent as an Indiana resident.
He said he doesn’t know what the state was like 200 years ago when it began, but he is thankful for the work of the previous generation. He is also excited about how that work with push the next generation forward.
“We certainly cannot imagine what the state will be like 100 years from today … but one thing is for sure. With the foundation that has been laid here by the generations of our pioneers, we can be very optimistic that it will be nothing less than a huge miracle. That it will be nothing less than an absolutely vibrant Indiana,” he said. “And I have this thought that I’m sure you’re all thinking about. That 100 years from now, we won’t just be the Crossroads of (America), but we would truly be the crossroad of cultures, innovations, sports, education and a destination with many faiths and interfaith attractions. A fabled heartland of ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ and global partnerships.”
✭ Call IndyStar reporter Justin L.
Mack at (317) 444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.