Residents from Marine gathered on a blustery Monday afternoon to celebrate an event that has been almost 200 years in the making.
On Dec. 3, 1818, with 34,620 residents, Illinois became the 21st state. On Monday, Marine and many other communities throughout Illinois, sparked the start of a 365-day celebration leading up to the state’s 200th birthday by hosting an Illinois Bicentennial flag-raising ceremony.
“The purpose of the flag-raising was to show the public that we are displaying that we actually are celebrating are 200th year. The flag is a special reference to that,” said Terry Gergen, a Marine village trustee.
Village Trustee Steven Bartlett opened the ceremony, who handed it off to the Rev. Phil Kershner, of Evangelical United Church of Christ of Marine, for an opening prayer. Gergen then read a brief history of what led to statehood and read the proclamation declaring Marine’s participation in the celebration.
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After the proclamation, the Illinois Bicentennial flag was raised on the flag pole, and Sue Ellen Drewer sang “Illinois.”
June and Roland Ahlmeyer, both members of the Marine Historical Society, also attended the ceremony. Even though it was a little windy, the event was excellent, they said.
“I think it’s important for the city of Marine to see the new flag flying up there, and I just think it’s important for the people in town to understand what Marine stands for,” June Ahlmeyer said.
Madison County Courthouse ceremony
Madison County gave a salute to the Illinois Bicentennial during its own flag-raising ceremony Monday.
“Illinois became the 21st state to join the union on Dec. 3, 1818,” said County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler. “The bicentennial will pay tribute to the people, places and things across our state and what make us great.”
Chief Judge David Hylla, as well as judges Dennis Ruth, Sarah Smith and Philip Alfred, along with Madison County Historical Museum director Jon Parkins, who was dressed in periodic clothing, joined Prenzler at the flagpole in the courtyard between the administration building and courthouse at 157 N. Main St. in Edwardsville.
Prenzler said at one point in time, before Illinois became a state, the majority of its territory was Madison County.
“Madison County stretched all the way north of St. Louis and reached into parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan,” he said. “Madison County was established in 1812, long before cities up north were even thought about. Edwardsville is the third oldest city in the state and incorporated in 1819 just after Illinois became a state.”
More on the bicentennial
To view other flag-raising ceremonies in the state by search #RaiseTheFlag on various forms of social media. Areas in Illinois will also be hosting events over the next year to lead up to the state’s bicentennial on Dec. 3, 2018. To learn more about Illinois and the celebration follow the hashtag #IllinoisProud or follow the Illinois Bicentennial website at illinois200.com.