Twenty years ago, had someone told me I’d be living in Nebraska, I’d have said, “Where’s Nebraska?” Think about it—when’s the last time you saw a Nebraska license plate on a car in a movie? I don’t know either.
But love makes us do strange things, and I moved to Nebraska with the hopes of staying near the one I loved. I stayed in Nebraska because it feels right. The air is clean; grass, flowers, and trees line the roads more than garbage, signage, and commercial buildings. Rush hour means driving forty-five instead of sixty on the freeway, and taking an alternative route will usually lead to learning about history.
But Nebraska is more than the environment, it’s the people. Nebraskans are warm and friendly. They still stop to assist a distressed motorist. And that offer of help extends far beyond the road. Neighbors still help each other work on their houses. Teachers still make house calls. And entire communities come together to help their own, whether to recover from a natural disaster, support families during medical treatments, or to build a home for a young boy and his mom—Nebraskans do it all.
Like everyone who grows up and lives in their home town or even home state, Nebraskans don’t realize what they have. Omaha is a diverse cultural city, complete with the nationally recognized Henry Doorly Zoo, history museums, art museums, musical talent such as Mannheim Steamroller and 311, ballet, opera, symphony, and Broadway shows.
Less than an hour away, Lincoln boasts one of the best children’s museum in the country, and THE International Museum of Quilt Study, housing over 4,000 antique to modern quilts from around the world.
Trips to many cities around Nebraska will lead to the discovery of these inventions: Kool-Aid (Hastings, NE), Vise Grips (De Witt, NE), TV Dinners (Omaha, NE), and Cliff Notes (Lincoln, NE).
And while the people here chant “Go Big Red” just like my home state of Wisconsin, fans are referring to Cornhuskers, not Badgers. My children proudly wear a Badger on school spirit days, but they call him Tuffy, not Bucky.
Yes, there’s a lot of pride in this state of 1.5 million people. Nebraskans are proud of every sports team that has ever called Nebraska home. We are proud to be the only state with a unicameral legislative body. We are proud to call Nebraska home to Gerald Ford, Malcolm X, Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, Nick Nolte, Willa Cather, Larry the Cable Guy, and Warren Buffet. We are proud to call Wahoo the former home of David Letterman’s Top Ten—but as a transplant, I think that satisfaction comes from just saying “Wahoo!” It puts a smile on everyone’s face.