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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Reichley: Leavenworth history should be celebrated

  • Next Wednesday is Kansas' birthday, if states have such things.
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  • Next Wednesday is Kansas' birthday, if states have such things. It will be a ripe old 153 years old, 38 years older than the world's oldest person. Ergo, no one alive today was alive when Kansas became the 34th state on Jan. 29, 1861.
    Fort Leavenworth was already 34 years old, and the town of Leavenworth was seven years old. The fort was the first permanent Army fort west of the Missouri River, and today is the second oldest active fort in the nation.
    As several candidates for city council office said in a past debate, every state has a first city, so that is not an important thing. Maybe not. But having the second most historic fort in the nation should be important.
    It's not, according to any almanac you look at today. I've complained for years about the absence of Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth in almanacs and any other history book one chooses to consult. We don't exist.
    As a former Leavenworth citizen of the year and member of the Convention and Visitors Bureau told me many years ago, "The people in Topeka who send information to almanacs and other history books do not recognize that anything east of Topeka exists."
    I didn't believe it at the time, but in the ensuing years I've found it to be true. We don't exist, nor does our history.
    The last news article about tourism I saw listed Kansas as number 49 in tourism. Considering there are 50 states, that's not so good. But if all almanacs and other historical publications exclude our existence and history, how could tourists know about us? And if we have no history, why would they want to come here?
    Leavenworth once publicized itself as "Where the West began." But that obviously hasn't been publicized that to those who publicize the state to the nation's almanac publishers.
    We are here, and we know we are here, and we love our heritage and our history. What do we need to do to convince those in Topeka that we are here? Gov. Sam Brownback, when he was a senator, spoke to the CGSC class several times, and was a very popular speaker.
    And he had many seminars with students in the CGSC second year school, the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). So he is well aware of our existence and supposedly our history. Perhaps if hundreds of readers send this column to the governor, it will refresh his memory that we are here, we do exist, we do have a history, and he might just energize the proper agency in Topeka that submits information to almanacs to tell them we do exist.
    It might even work if only one or two of you send the governor this column. He'll never see it of course, but assistants might, and they might take action. Any action could help.
    Page 2 of 2 - I'm tired of my state of choice, with its rich history and importance to the nation, being ignored by people in Topeka who send information to the producers of almanacs.
    In the World Almanac, under famous Kansans, are listed John Brown, Carry Nation, and Dwight Eisenhower. Brown was born in Connecticut and lived in Kansas only 13 months of his 59-year life; Nation was born in and is buried in Missouri, but she did die in Leavenworth in 1911. Ike was born in Texas but grew up in Abilene and is buried there. That's just an example of inaccuracies that abound about Kansas. None was a native.
    Hopefully my 2014 column about Kansas' birthday will have the good news that almanacs recognize our 154 years of existence. If not, I'll continue my rampage against those in Kansas who do not know their Kansas history. Happy birthday to my adopted state.
    John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.

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