What we all have expected for some time is coming true as the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's trek across the West grows nearer. It's clear that all the hard work people have been putting out in preparation for this event will be worth it, and much more work is needed.
A documentary film is being produced about York, William Clark's slave who traveled with the Corps of Discovery. Another study is being done out of Philadelphia about the medical procedures and expertise the explorers used on their journey. Even a board game has been released concerning historical facts of the expedition.
In Umatilla and Morrow counties, as well as just about every other place along Lewis and Clark's route, groups have been making plans for the anniversary, set for 2004-06. Some of it has gone well; some not so well. Funding has become a big issue and many Lewis and Clark planning groups are struggling to find enough money to put their plans in motion. We hope that changes.
Few stories in American history are as fascinating and grip our imaginations quite like the Lewis and Clark expedition. The cast of characters, with all their flaws and strengths, tell a story unlike any other about our country's westward exploration and expansion.
It seems like every year a new and interesting facet to the story is uncovered. The documentary on York is long past due. By all accounts, and they are few, his exploits and expertise did much to help make the journey a success. He proved invaluable as an ambassador to many tribal cultures and there's no doubt he more than held up his end of the work required for such an adventure. And he had nothing to gain from it as did other members of the Corps of Discovery. It's stories like his and Sacajwea's that bring more depth and understanding of the times they lived in and the country we now call home.
The story of Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery has good sides and bad sides, but all of them are interesting. They opened a whole new world to our country and introduced us to people, flora and fauna that few people along the East Coast could imagine at the time.
Let's hope that we remember this important anniversary looming not so far away and do our part to enhance it. There's little doubt that millions of Americans will take interest in this trek and it's critical that we handle this celebration correctly and enrich those who come here seeking more information about our past and present.