Editorial: There's a lot that's right about Illinois

So. our suburbs, as Mick Zawislak explains in the paper today, could have been part of Wisconsin had the quirks of history gone a little bit differently.

Nothing against our great neighbors to the north, but we're proud to live in Illinois.

For all our state's flaws and shortcomings, Illinois is a fabulous state, from top to bottom, and we wouldn't trade it for any other place in the union.

Yes, Wisconsin is a great state to visit. And the United States has plenty of other vacation spots that intrigue us.

But as author Terry Pratchett once wrote, "Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors."

Last week, Illinois began its 200th year. It's a convenient year to remind ourselves of all our state has to offer, a convenient time to learn more and a convenient time to celebrate.

We encourage you to check out the state's Bicentennial website,

And we and other members of the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and the Illinois Press Association plan to do our part in providing an ongoing education on the state's history and its glories and contributions.

Zawislak's story today is the first of a yearlong series of occasional articles we'll be publishing - supported not just by our own reporting but also by contributions from more than 20 other newspapers.

Because of our political scandals and an earlier stereotype of organized crime, Illinois' reputation sometimes is undeservedly negative.

True, we have and have had our problems and our challenges.

But what a great state. Just think of the diversity, with a world-class city on the lake, thriving suburbs, charming rural communities.

The University of Chicago has produced more Nobel laureates than anyone can count. The University of Illinois has one of the finest engineering schools in the country. Fermilab in Batavia has played an integral role in helping us understand our universe.

We've spawned Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Paul Simon.

George Halas founded the NFL. The Chicago Cubs are one of the most legendary teams in sports. Michael Jordan, the NBA's greatest player, did his playing here.

Cracker Jack, the Ferris wheel, the zipper were introduced here.

We've got McDonald's, Portillo's, Lou Malnati's and Oberweis. And let's not forget Motorola and Walgreens and Sears. We're even home to Popeye, Dick Tracy and Superman.

Yes, Superman!

This is only a short list. There's so much to add to it. And between now and the Bicentennial anniversary on Dec. 3, 2018, we will.

A view of the Ferris wheel at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
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