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Commemorating the Bicentennial

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

Lewis and Clark began their epic journey up the Missouri River on May 14, 1804, but our nation's bicentennial commemoration of Lewis and Clark's epic journey officially started in January 2003, at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, at Charlottesville, Virginia.

The National Council for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial has identified 15 "National Signature Events" marking significant milestones, turning points or achievements of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The first of four national signature events taking place in Missouri is the Three Flags Ceremony. This event, marked for March 10-14, commemorates the transfer of Upper Louisiana from Spain to France to the United States. The event culminates with a ceremony on the Gateway Arch grounds March 14. It will include governors of the Louisiana Territory states and performances by the French Air Force Band and the U.S. Army Band's Old Guard in period dress. For more information contact Dr. Wendell Smith, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, (314) 516-5255, or visit online.

From May 14 through May 23, the city of St. Charles will commemorate the national signature event titled, "Preparations Complete, The Expedition Faces West." May 14 also marks the start of the St. Charles 25th Annual Lewis and Clark Heritage Days Festival. You can to see replicas of keelboats and pirogues (canoes made from hollowed tree trunks), see reenactors in period dress, learn about 19thcentury crafts, and taste 19th-century foods.

For more information, contact Venetia McEntire, St. Charles Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission, (800) 366-2427, or online.

The event labeled "A Journey Fourth," which is scheduled for July 3-4 in the Kansas City area, marks the first Independence Day observance west of the Mississippi River. In 1804, the expedition celebrated the holiday with two cannon blasts. In 2004, organizers plan nearly three weeks of Lewis and Clark commemorative activities, including an air show and a spectacular fireworks displays.

For more information, contact Emilie Jester, Heart of America: A Journey Fourth, 1100 Main, Suite 2200, Kansas City, (800) 858-1749 or online.

The event marking the return of Lewis and Clark will take place in St. Louis on September 23, 2006.

Lewis and Clark links

  • Dugouts: jim.duncan@mdc.mo.gov, (573) 522-4115 X 3256
  • Traveling exhibits: nrgrelc@dnr.state.mo.us or (573) 751-2854.

Many communities, organizations, government agencies and even private businesses are planning bicentennial anniversary programs to coincide with these national signature events. These festivals or programs offer both a glimpse into the past and an opportunity to

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