Son of a Gun!!
Missed it Again!
Wouldn’t you think that the ever-alert staff of the MISSOURInet would have known that yesterday (Wednesday) was MISSOURI Day???
It just slipped past us. We were a little preoccupied with covering an execution that didn’t happen, a gaming commission meeting to talk about what to do with the state’s remaining casino license, the coming retirement of a Supreme Court Judge, an immigration issue, and lengthy discussions about the upcoming Missouri-Oklahoma football game.
Missouri day is the creation of the Missouri Legislature which in 1915 decreed that the first Monday of October each year would be set aside as a time to ponder about and teach about the greatness of Missouri. Schools were to honor the state and its people and celebrate the achievements of all Missourians on that day. The legislature in 1969 for reasons that have escaped into the vapors of memory shifted the observance to the third Wednesday.
But it’s not a state holiday, which is kind of peculiar. We do have a state holiday that honors that famous Missourian Christopher Columbus. But we don’t have a state holiday that honors our state and the accomplishments of its citizens.
Where is the cry for justice in this situation? Why aren’t fourth graders marching on the Capitol?
Maybe this should be the next noble crusade for Missouri’s fourth graders. They’re the ones—maybe it’s fifth graders too—who annually come up with some critter or other, existing or extinct, as a new official state symbol. Sometimes it’s an inanimate object like a grape or a fiddle or some such. And they usually embarrass their local representative or senator into sponsoring a bill that makes the kneecap Missouri’s Official Joint or some such thing. So instead of lawmakers working on less important things like how to pay for the education of children who want an Official State Joint, the lawmakers pass time discussing whether it should be the knee, the elbow, the ankle, the hip, the shoulder, or the knuckle of the third finger on the left hand.
There are undoubtedly some members of the legislature whose favorite joint is Pat’s Place, a couple of blocks from the capitol. And some might remember but would not admit having a close personal relationship with a different kind of joint when they were in college.
Well, anyway, back to Missouri Day.
It came from the fertile mind of one Anna Brosius Korn,, a diminutive and determined redhead who had the idea while she was living in Oklahoma (perhaps next Saturday’s OU-MU game should be called the “Korn Memorial Kontest” in her honor since she spans the cultures of both states). She wrote in the October, 1915 Missouri Historical Review that people living beyond Missouri’s boundaries sought out each other to form fraternal associations that celebrated their natal states. That’s why there is a Missouri Society in Washington, D.C. And it’s why she formed a Missouri Society of Oklahoma.
“On February 11, 1913, I paid my first visit to Jefferson City and as I stood upon the ruins of the historic site of the old state capitol, meditating upon the famous events that characterized its existence and reflecting upon the achievements of the sons and daughters of Missouri who have given their lives and talents in her varied activities, the desire to translate my idea into action became a fact of experience,” she wrote. She went home to Trenton and wrote resolutions for the legislature to pass establishing Missouri Day in October. Why October. Because, she said, Mark Twain said it was a time when “Missouri is at her best.”
“The weather conditions at that time are most conducive to study and enjoyment after a period of mental rest. The end of the harvest at that time bespeaks the glory of Missouri’s resources and lend material aid in demonstrating her greatness, wealth and power,” she wrote.
She also wrote that another reason for October was because the state flower at the time, the Golden Rod (!) was blooming resplendently on “Hillside through vale and glen” and would be a “conspicuous force useful and decorative for the State’s celebration of ” Missouri Day. We should note that that part of her reasoning certainly IS something to sneeze at.
She picked October first to commemorate the movement of the seat of state government to Jefferson City from St.. Charles on October 1, 1826.
Mrs. Korn got the endorsement of the Shakesperian Circle in /Trenton at a meeting in August. She was president of the group. In October she got the endorsement of the Grundy County Teachers’ Association. In November, the Missouri State Teachers Association endorsed the idea. In the next few months she got endorsements from several other organizations including the DAR which wielded quite a bit of political clout in those days before women could vote. Anna organized the Dorcas Richardson Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, of Trenton at her home in 1912 and later organized a chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Much emboldened by the support of numerous clubs and associations, Anna wrote a bill that she gave to Rep. J. A. Waterman of Caldwell County–where she’d been born in 1869–to introduce in the 1915 legislative session. The bill was amended to require the first Monday of October by lawmakers though realized that October 1 would fall on Saturday or Sunday two-sevenths of the time and therefore schools would not be getting the time for proper observance of the event. It passed the House January 26 and then the Senate on March 19. Governor Major quickly signed the bill.
Anna also wrote a state song. The “Missouri Carol” was endorsed by the legislature in 1917 to be used on state occasions, national holidays, and in schools and colleges. Unfortunately, lawmakers could never agree on a tune to go with her lyrics:
All praise to old Missouri
To her people staunch and true;
To the flag that floats above her,
Of the red, white, and blue.
And honor to our Country,
And our God whom we adore–
Whose Guidance we petition
It was replaced in 1949 by the Missouri Waltz, a tune that has almost nothing to do with Missouri. And it’s a boring song, to boot.
Anna left Missouri in 1917 and moved to Oklahoma where she served for more than forty years on the Oklahoma Historical Society’s board of trustees and founded what is today the Oklahoma Heritage Association. She was elected to that state’s Hall of Fame in 1961, four years before her death.
And that’s the story of the lady who gave us a non-holiday day that honors our state and that the state and most of its people had no idea was occurring yesterday.
Happy Missouri Day.