Exploring who we are, where we came from, and what it means to be homegrown in Jefferson City.
Where are you from, JCMO?
We often hear these kinds of questions. Where are you from? How long have you lived here? Were you born here? Where do you call home? Are you a JC native?
What does it mean to be homegrown, and why does it matter?
I asked my mom, Irene, what it was like for her to go through the naturalization ceremony during the United States bicentennial year in 1976 after she had arrived in our capital city from Greece. She was a new bride then and has now just celebrated her 50 year wedding anniversary. She fell in love with my dad and Jefferson City and has never looked back.
Today, it’s easy to stay in touch with family and friends. With the touch of a button, the internet brings them into focus no matter where they are. Back then, it was not as easy. Writing letters and sending pictures to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins overseas was the only way. Thankfully, we can now be so much closer.
I asked her what it was like to move here from a different country. She believes she is “lucky to have two places to call home.”
We often see the Capitol, the Missouri River, and so many other favorite places here. Taking a moment to take it all in, you feel thankful and realize how special it is. Over the years, I’ve had the honor to attend naturalization ceremonies, and it’s so touching and emotional. We might take our home, and how wonderful it is, for granted sometimes. Some of us may have been born here in Jefferson City and some came from all corners of the world. Families and new friends await. They are our neighbors, business owners, and co-workers.
This year, as part of Missouri’s Bicentennial Celebration, a United States naturalization ceremony was held on Missouri’s 200th birthday, which also happened to be Statehood Day (August 10) at the Missouri State Capitol building. How exciting to witness such a moving ceremony on a special milestone celebrating 200 years of our state!
So where are you from? We all have stories of where we came from and why we’re thankful to call Jefferson City our home — whether we were born here or made the decision to move here. Maybe it was business or family. Maybe it was school. Maybe you visited Jefferson City and loved it so much you decided to stay. Wherever your seeds were originally planted, you can bloom here. That’s what homegrown is all about. Whatever steered you in this direction and brought you here, Jefferson City continues to be a welcoming place. There are many opportunities here to bring your own style and creativity, and there are civic and charity organizations to get involved with, plenty of places to take a stroll that overlook the beauty and history of our city, and opportunities to join a strong faith community. This city was built by generations with more to come.
May this Bicentennial year give us a chance to reflect on where we all came from, how we got here, and the beautiful tapestry we are able to weave together that makes our country and our community so wonderful. Let’s make sure our tapestry continues to be vibrant and strong. Wherever we are from, JCMO brought us together, and for that, as a mayor, I am thankful.