February 29, 2024

Young Celebrates Vermillion County Bicentennial on Senate Floor

vermillion county

Click here or above to watch Senator Young’s floor speech.


WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) spoke on the Senate floor about the bicentennial of Vermillion County, which celebrated its 200th birthday earlier this month.

In his remarks, Young spoke about the history of Vermillion County, its people, and the county’s contributions to Indiana and America.  

To watch Senator Young’s speech, click here or the image above.

Below are Senator Young’s full remarks:

Mr. President, I rise today to salute Vermillion County, Indiana on the occasion of its bicentennial, which occurred earlier this month.

I begin this tribute thousands of miles and an ocean away from west-central Indiana, in Iejima, an island off the coast of Okinawa.

There, in Iejima, in a park by the side of a road, stands a small monument made of white stone.

A bronze plaque is placed near its base, and it reads:  


They weren’t the only ones who lost a friend that day.

No other writer so vividly captured the experiences of the American soldier or better chronicled the war they fought during World War II than Ernie Pyle.

The warmth and directness of Ernie Pyle’s columns channeled the voice of the GI and communicated it clearly to the countrymen back home.

Pyle was by so many accounts America’s greatest war correspondent. He was a shy farm boy from the town of Dana in Vermillion County. In fact, the house he was born in is still there.

His writing style reflected his upbringing in the warmth of small-town America and Hoosier common sense.

And that monument that I mentioned near the spot he died is just one the incredible things that Vermillion County’s people have accomplished and how the values instilled there made them possible.

Now, I will allow that not all Americans have heard of this part of Indiana.

After all, it’s a small spot on the map, bounded to the east by the Wabash River, seven miles wide, 37 miles long, home to less than 16,000 citizens…

But as Ernie Pyle’s life demonstrates, we are all – each and every one of us – better off because of the Hoosiers who have called Vermillion County home.

They have done great things, and they’ve done them quietly, in and far away from their own communities.

In fact, when our Union was in peril, our freedoms threatened, Vermillion County’s residents answered the call again and again and again.

They fought in the siege of Vicksburg, suffered in the misery of Andersonville.

Their bodies rest far from Vermillion County’s Hoosier soil – they are in American cemeteries abroad…

…their names can be found on the tablets of the lost – their families still hold the Purple Hearts, and hang the Gold Star Banners.

These Hoosiers have not only defended America but, with their industriousness and creativity, they’ve contributed to all of our walks of life.

The area’s first settlers discovered the richness of its soil.

Two centuries later, their descendants still work the land… in fact hundreds of farms – many family-owned – help drive the local economy and feed our nation.

Vermillion County has provided much else though:

Leaders who have risen to Indiana’s highest offices…

But not just leaders.

Explorers, actors, athletes, engineers,

…and of course, one legendary journalist who was the voice of the American soldier and won the Pulitzer Prize.

The rich history of Vermillion County isn’t simply characterized by a list of outbound citizens though. It’s also characterized by hopeful new arrivals.

At the end of the 19th Century, the town of Clinton was a destination for Italian immigrants seeking employment in the nearby coal mines…

They embraced their new home and their country, and they left a legacy in Vermillion County that is still visible and recalled every September:

The Little Italy Festival is a four-day celebration of Clinton’s Italian heritage, held almost every Labor Day since 1966. It’s one of my local cherished traditions.

With its small towns and their historic buildings and family businesses

…its beautiful landscapes, and beloved covered bridges…

…Vermillion County is quintessential Indiana and quintessential America.

But it is the Hoosiers who live there that we celebrate on this anniversary.

A story Ernie Pyle recorded from “good old Dana,” as he put it, catches their spirit just as clearly as his reports from the front gave voice to the GIs.

You see, when Pyle’s mother suffered a stroke, she badly needed a hospital bed.

There was only one in the entire county, the property of a family living eight miles away.

They were happy to loan it, but the Pyles had no way to transport the bed to their home.

When he heard about this dilemma, one Claude Lockeridge, who lived just down the road from the Pyles, fired up his old Model T truck and drove 16 miles in the snow to fetch the bed.

It’s a little gesture of kindness, perhaps, but a million of these are what make America. And I would argue, it’s what makes America great.

The occasion of its 200th anniversary is a fitting time not simply to honor Vermillion County but to remember how much our small towns and our local communities matter……

…and how essential the decency, kindness, and patriotism found in places like Vermillion County is to our Republic.

To the people of Vermillion County, we join you in the celebration of your bicentennial, we thank you for all you have done for our state and our country, and we look forward to the days ahead.

God Bless.