My Dear Michigan,
It’s amazing to think that 175 years ago, with the stroke of a pen, you turned into a state. Especially after that whole mess with Ohio. (Toledo? Really?) But you got the Upper Peninsula out of the deal, so we’ll call it good.
You’ve led quite the interesting life so far. War, industrialization, prosperity, an economic depression, revitalization, and now a recession that left you bruised and bloody. But, and this is important, you aren’t dead, either. You’ve been a symbol of strength, resilience, innovation, and passion since the beginning.
You gave us Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Charles Lindbergh. My hometown was the beginning of the legend that was Abraham Lincoln’s political life. Music took on a new sound in Detroit, that echoes through most music today. Now you’re home to thousands of orchards, farms, and dairies, and the people who promote your greatness have made you the most popular state in the nation for tourists. They’ve taken to calling you “Pure Michigan,” because you don’t try to be anything other than you. Sleeping Bear Dunes was named the most beautiful place in America last year. See? You look good for 175. Other states try to imitate you, but they can’t come close.
Stories abound about events and places that shaped you, and those of us who call you our own. Mackinac Island was a fort in the American Revolution and saw two battles in the War of 1812. Our troops helped to protect the Union from defeat in the Civil War. The legendary steel freighter, The Edmund Fitzgerald, sunk in a bad storm near Whitefish Point in Lake Superior in 1975. You can even claim a President as your own, in Gerald Ford.
So happy birthday. Here’s to 175 more years, my old friend. I’m proud to call myself one of yours, and even from the other side of Lake Michigan, I think of you often, and I’ll visit you soon.