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Let’s reflect on Per Aspera is part of the nation's 250th celebration

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Stephanie McCabe

In 2026, the United States will mark the 250th anniversary of Independence. This event, the semiquincentennial or just “semi quin” is a chance to reflect on our country and where we are going. There's a lot of planning that has to take place and we only have a year and a half until things get started. For some people, the semi quin is a chance to celebrate what makes America unique. For others, it's a time to take stock of challenges and “unfinished” revolutions. Both are appropriate. For those of us who remember the Bicentennial, we might remember events and parades or the Freedom Train. I was in grade school and remember a lot of pioneer-related activities back in my hometown of Santa Fe.

Each state has a commission, and the one for Kansas is working on ways to connect Kansas with the legacy of 1776. The guiding theme for Kansas comes from our state's motto — Ad Astra Per Aspera. We've seen a lot of references to "Ad Astra," or "to the stars." This time, our guiding theme is "Per Aspera," or "through difficulties." Note that the key word here is "through" — not derailed — by difficulties. There are lots of ways to make this relevant to your own activities. To learn more, check out the guidebook from the American Association for State and Local Histories, "Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial."

Let’s reflect on Per Aspera and how the Sunflower State is part of the nation's 250th celebration.

Jay M. Price is chair of the department of history at Wichita State University, where he also directs the public history program.