Two hundred years in the making, four years in the planning and 90 minutes in the unveiling, Union County's Bicentennial (Bison-tennial) celebration officially left the starting line last week with a promise to finish no sooner than Nov. 22.
Residents, neighbors and friends of Union County were invited to participate in a range of events reflecting the pride of the Buffalo Valley that promise entertainment, enlightenment and appreciation for great souls and good intentions of the past that nurture a better future for young Pennsylvanians every day.
We doubt there is a county in the commonwealth more profoundly patriotic or historically steeped in events that forged the American character than the geography now known as Union County. Nor are those qualities uniquely there.
Throughout the region we commonly know as the Valley, there are long, deep political, commercial and historic associations with the people in the boroughs and townships that have been shuffled and reshuffled into Northumberland, Snyder, Montour or Union counties.
In this time, however, it is fair to acknowledge that Union County's particular assets are several and admirable.
Upon a sturdy and stable agricultural base, Union County has been able to develop a resilient economy around the institutional pillars of education, health and security as the home for Bucknell University, Evangelical Hospital and a federal prison complex.
These foundations, the talent they attract and the wealth they sustain within their communities, provide residents of Union County with opportunities to embrace adaptive behaviors and progressive ideas within the peace, constancy and traditions of rural life, a rare combination that many places seek, but few achieve to the same degree.
This chemistry produces, with only few exceptions, political, social, educational and spiritual leadership capable of imagining, planning, enacting and communicating policies and projects that are sufficiently positive, accessible and thoughtful to achieve broad-based public support.
These leaders assure that Union County practices democracy that is neither forced by necessity nor driven by inclination to rely upon expedience, denial or sacrifice, but can count on consensus and cooperation.
Commissioner John Showers, who led the Bison-tennial planning efforts, alluded to the brainstorming that went into the months-long event, with a term rarely attached to politicians in the days of ragged bottom-line scarcity: Dreamers.
Dreaming is good. Here's to another 200 years of turning dreams to reality. Happy birthday, Union County.