JASPER, Tenn. -- During a year when James Monroe was president of the United States, construction of the Erie Canal had begun and the New York Stock Exchange was founded, Marion County was born.
That was 1817.
Now, almost 200 years later, officials from various historical and civic groups are preparing for the county's bicentennial in 2017.
The Marion County Commission has voted unanimously to endorse the preparations.
John Pinnix, who represents residents from the National African-American Association of Marion County, the South Pittsburg Historical Preservation Society and the Jasper Regional History Museum, said there is a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to organize the celebration.
"It's my hope that the vision I share will spark a fire that will blaze into reality just a few short years from now," he said. "It's an opportunity for everyone to join together for one purpose -- to celebrate our heritage."
The county is "filled with history," he said, but "few of our county's citizens are aware."
Educating residents on the county's history is important because, if they don't know their history, they are "ill-prepared to face the future," Pinnix said.
Various organizations in the county will prepare a series of events through 2017 for the bicentennial, officials said.
"Just think what a precious gift it would be to give to our children and our children's children who will look back at us ... and say, 'Thank you for remembering and helping us to make it a meaningful part of our history,'" Pinnix said.
Commission Chairman Les Price said endorsing the group's effort "comes pretty cheap" for the board.
"[The bicentennial] is a few years off, but I don't see why we can't [begin preparing for it]," Price said.
Pinnix said the board's blessing is "vital and needed to encourage cooperation" among governmental agencies, churches, schools, civic organizations and historical groups in the county.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.