The state’s new bicentennial flag, designed by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.

Two hundred years ago, Maine people had the good sense to ditch Massachusetts and set off on their own course of self-governance. During the past 200 years of statehood, our state has seen its share of triumphs and failures, and the effort to live up to the phrase “the way life should be” is a constant work in progress.

Maine is celebrating the bicentennial throughout the year, but the state officially entered the union on March 15, 1820. With that auspicious date falling this weekend, amid a global pandemic, we don’t have anything particularly fun or profound to say about this big birthday (we will once again remind you to wash your hands). But here are 10 quick bicentennial thoughts about where the Pine Tree State is today, where it’s been, and where it’s going.

First, there’s no getting around the fact that Maine is heading into its bicentennial weekend during an uneasy time. Gov. Janet Mills announced the first presumed positive test for coronavirus in the state on Thursday. Two more were announced Friday. Among the growing list of cancellations and postponements, the Maine Bicentennial Commission decided to cancel the Statehood Day celebration planned for Sunday. It’s no fun to cancel a birthday party, but if the last 200 years have taught Mainers anything, it’s practicality. This was the right call.

Second, the Maine bicentennial stamp unveiled by the U.S. Postal Service had us thinking briefly about the long-standing (and ultimately unhelpful) debate about “two Maines.” The stamp, which features a painting from Edward Hopper titled “Sea at Ogunquit,” could easily be seen through the regionalist lense as more attention for southern, coastal Maine. We would have loved to see a landmark or scene from up this neck of the woods on the stamp, but it’s important to resist the urge to carve the state up into rivaling areas. We’re all in this together, it’s all Maine, and it’s all worth celebrating.

Third, Bangor is a great city, but there should be no harm in getting a chuckle from Oliver Frost’s 1869 prediction that, “The time may soon arrive when the three great cities of North America — Bangor, New York, and San Francisco — shall be representatives of the wealth, population, intelligence, and enterprise of the eastern, central and western divisions of our country.”

Fourth, it’s worth pointing out that Maine’s growth has been fueled at different points in our history by the influx of people some might consider “from away.” It’s time we dropped the tired standard that you have to be born a Mainer rather than choose to become one. To quote brewery owner Andy Geaghan from a BDN event last year, “Let’s get rid of that stuff.”

Fifth, while we’re on the topic of how long certain people have been in Maine, let’s not forget the people who have made this land home, not for 200 years, but for closer to 12,000. Maine’s Wabanaki people were initially (and for far too long) barred from voting. As tribal leaders made clear to this editorial board in a recent meeting, they still feel that they are diminished and held back by a 1980 agreement that needs reconsideration. The bicentennial is an occasion not just for remembrance, but recognition that this relationship between the state and Maine tribes can and must improve — and that will require a shift in perspective for many in state government.

Sixth, Maine entered the union as part of a compromise. Maine joined as an anti-slave state, while Missouri joined the pro-slavery ranks. While Maine needs to do better when it comes to race and inclusion, the state also has proud moments in terms of welcoming newcomers. We saw this most recently when residents in the Portland area banded together to find housing, clothing and other essentials for refugees who unexpectedly came to the city.

Seventh, and on a lighter note, are we the only ones totally underwhelmed by the bicentennial flag design to help mark this year of celebration? Again, we’re not vexillologists (who study flags), but we’re vexed by this design and the process that led to it.

Eight, in reviewing some of the i deas that almost changed the state, it strikes us that Maine occasionally needs to say yes to large infrastructure projects and investments. This state seems to have said no to a lot of projects over the years: dams, tidal projects, oil refineries, just to name a few. That’s not to say Maine shouldn’t assess each project on its own merits, but the answer to development and investment can’t always be no.

Ninth, whoopie pies, lobster, Moxie, L.L. Bean. Need we say more?

Tenth, there’s a great quote attributed to E.B. White that feels particularly relevant right now: “I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.” During an uncertain time, we’re certainly glad to be here in Maine.