A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
On Nov. 2, 1889, at 2:40 p.m., President Benjamin Harrison signed South Dakota into statehood. Before signing the statehood proclamations for the two Dakotas, President Harrison instructed Secretary of State James Blaine to cover both proclamations under a sheet of paper. President Harrison signed both, and then shuffled them again so that no one, not even the President, knew which proclamation was signed first.
One hundred twenty-five years later, I can’t help but be proud of all we have accomplished.
Our farmers and ranchers survived the Dust Bowl, withstood blizzards, droughts and floods, and built an agricultural economy that is as strong as it has ever been.
This is the place where Gutzon Borglum and Korczak Ziolkowski found their stone canvases; where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up in her “Little Town on the Prairie”; and where Kevin Costner let the world see the pride and culture of the Lakota people, against the backdrop of South Dakota’s breathtaking landscapes in “Dances with Wolves.”
This is the place where a well-digger named Peter Norbeck created one of the nation’s best state parks; where a quiet professor named George McGovern became a candidate for president and an advocate for the hungry; and where a high school dropout named Bill Janklow connected our schools to the Internet and made a university in Madison a leader in cybersecurity.
Our history is one of perseverance. In overcoming obstacles, we don’t merely survive; we prosper and achieve beyond anyone’s expectations. This is something country singer Kyle Evans understood when he composed a special tribute to our state twenty-five years ago. He wrote:
Where horses traveled dusty trails, fancy cars now drive on superhighways,
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.
Let us never take for granted this lifestyle unequalled in this land,
Where a friend is still a true friend, always there to lend a helping hand,
Where religion is still our guideline and Old Glory will always be unfurled,
Where you’ll find old-fashioned values in a fast-moving modern day world.
As Mr. Evans perceived, our state has changed a lot since President Harrison signed that important document. But South Dakotans are still the same at heart – our values, work-ethic and neighborliness still remain. That’s what makes our state exceptional.
So let’s pause today to celebrate what we’ve already achieved; and tomorrow we’ll continue the trek forward in building upon what our forefathers began.
Happy birthday South Dakota!