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Celebrations on horizon for Mississippi

Long before the Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State rivalry, before William Faulkner existed, let alone picked up a pen, and before Oprah and Elvis thrust their homeland onto the public stage, something momentous happened in our corner of the world.

Mississippi was born.

Tuesday marked a bit of an odd event for Mississippi. It was exactly 196 years ago, Dec. 10, 1817, that our little patch of precious earth became an official member of the United States of America.

It’s not often that great celebration or even attention is drawn to the 196th occurrence of anything. In our world of nice round numbers, we generally like to ignore the in-between dates and focus on the big ones — 25, 50, 100, etc.

So in that light, Tuesday wasn’t all that special.

But what’s special is coming down the road, and it will be here sooner than you think.

Mississippi’s 200th birthday celebration will be in 2017; state leaders are just beginning to plan out how the state will celebrate the event. It’s easy for us to forget this, but the Natchez area — the Washington community to be specific — was the focal point of early Mississippi government.

The state’s first constitution was drafted in a small church that would later become part of what we now know as Historic Jefferson College.

In 2017 the Mississippi Legislature plans to convene briefly in Washington to kick off a year of the bicentennial celebration.

We hope and expect Natchez will play a significant role in the bicentennial plans, as it was key to Mississippi’s early success.

In addition, with Natchez celebrating its founding, marking 300 years in existence, the year prior in 2016, Natchez should be well poised to help show the rest of the state how to throw a birthday bash. Let’s get ready to celebrate, first in Natchez, then statewide!