Happy birthday, Nebraska!  Can you think of a better way to ring in #151 than by watching the latest edition of Nebraska Stories?  Actually this edition happens to be all about finding reasons to celebrate.  And there are plenty of them across Nebraska.  Here is more about Episode 908.  All of the italicized comments are directly from the NET show notes.  The comments that follow express my thoughts on the story.  All opinions are my own.

“Capitol Fountains”  A final portion of the Nebraska’s historic State Capitol is finally finished. The original designer envisioned a beautiful fountain at the center of the courtyard. That concept was sidelined by the economic constraints of the Great Depression. In celebration of Nebraska’s 150th anniversary, and nearly a century after these original plans were created, the designer’s original vision is fulfilled.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to see these beautiful fountains from the courtyard.  Somehow I did not manage to hear about their event to celebrate the official fountain opening.  I definitely would have tried to attend.  These fountains add interest to previously empty courtyards.  What a gift to Nebraska!

“Beyond the Field/Shrine Bowl”

The players from the 59th annual Nebraska Shrine Bowl discover more reasons why they play the game as they meet the young patients of Shriners Hospital.

Rather than choosing to focus on disabilities, Shriners’ patients have a different perspective.  They choose to celebrate the gifts and abilities they do have.  I appreciate how Shriners involves local athletes.  We can all forget to be thankful.

“Crane Carver” At the age of 74, retired farmer Gene Gustafson took up wood carving.  Then he became known for his hand-carved Sandhill Cranes.   Gene lived near the Platte River his entire life and over the course of twenty years, he whittled an estimated 500 birds.

This story is my favorite segment ever.  Not simply because I enjoy the cranes but because I loved the man who carved them.  You see, Gene was my Grandpa’s cousin.  Because my Mom grew up down the road from their family, Gene was more like an uncle to her.   He was a man of integrity and connection.  In the end of December, Gene passed away.  We all gathered together to celebrate his life at the beginning of January.  He will always have a special place in our hearts.  Incidentally, I do think that the segment was really well done as well!

“The Medicine of Art ”  

Art and medicine, two terms which are generally unrelated, are intricately linked for Scottish-born artist Mark Gilbert.  We see his latest works at an art exhibit at Omaha’s Bemis Center.  This is a part of a multi-year study involving portraiture.  The pieces are a series of portraits of patients and caregivers that have a transformative impact on those involved.

This is an archival segment that helps the viewer to remember to celebrate life.  Helping patients see that treatment is a gift is a challenge.  The human’s will to survive is remarkable.


While the year long celebration of Nebraska’s sesquicentennial is coming to end, there are still reasons to celebrate.  More events will be happening at various times.  Happy 151st birthday, Nebraska!


Author: neodyssey

My name is Gretchen Garrison. I started this blog about Nebraska in 2013. So far, I have written three books about Nebraska and Lincoln.