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To the Next Millennium: These Are the Days . . .

New Year's Day, 2000


That is the first time I have typed or written the year 2000.  When I was in sixth grade, I tried very hard to remember that on June 6, 1966, I wanted to write the date 6/6/66.  But I missed it.  Missed again in college in July, 1977, and in August, 1988.  This September, I missed my last opportunity until January 1, 2011 - 1/1/11.  But typing ‘January 2000’, made me pause.  It is two thousand A.D.  Two thousand years since the birth of Christ .  .  .


Farewell to the Twentieth Century.


A century you all saw bring us everything from common use of electricity and plumbing, to Neal Armstrong walking on the moon.  The drawing closed of the Iron Curtain, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The Great Depression, then the rise of Atlanta as a great international city.  The return of the modern Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee awarding the 1996 Summer Olympiad to - the City of .  .  .  Atlanta.


One hundred years which brought women the vote.  The death of Apartheid.  The failure of Communism, and the overwhelming success of spirituality and the community of volunteerism.


The century which saw the strength of freedom bring victory over tyranny, repression and genocide in the World War II European and Pacific Theatres.  But then the crushing of the Prague Spring of Alexander Dubček  in Czechoslovakia, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the massacre of Chinese students in Tienanmen Square.  And now, a growing spirit of peace and co-existence where many thought none could ever live - the common holy city of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam - Jerusalem. 


The first fifty years alone had Europe torn in pieces by two world wars - now a European Union with one currency, a tunnel to England, and talk of becoming one Europe.  Even as some predict that Canada, Mexico and the United States will someday be one.  As thirteen colonies became forty-eight states, then a mere forty years ago - the fifty states we are now.


A beginning of a century with the Wright brothers taking flight, a middle with “The Spruce Goose”, and an ending with a rescue mission to a satellite by the Space Shuttle.  Gravel and cobble stones and our budding love affair with the horseless-carriage .  .  .  to Route 66, and an interstate highway system.  From vegetable carts, to iced oranges and lettuce by train to every grocer in the country, and now through airports to - the world.


A kaleidoscope of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp and Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, Gone With the Wind, Star Wars and Schindler’s List.  Marlene Dietrich and Dolly Parton.  George Gershwin and Little Richard.  Igor Stravinsky, Frank Sinatra, and Luciano Pavarotti.  Lawrence Olivier, Betty Davis, Katharine Hepburn, and Humphrey Bogart.  George Orwell’s 1984.  Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane.  The poetry of Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Kahlil Gibran. 


From the first ‘party lines’ to Dick Tracy cell phones.  From Victrolas to 78s to Juke Boxes to cars that sound like Juke Boxes.  From “The War of the Worlds” to American Bandstand on transistor radios to boom-boxes the size of Juke Boxes.  From the original IBM - PC, to a global array of computer-based manufacturing, distribution, management, and banking systems that nearly brought the world to its knees because of a simple date change.


We all learned to cry as one watching John Jr.  salute his father’s funeral caisson.  As the world bid goodbye to Churchill.  As Bobby Kennedy and Dr.  Martin Luther King lay dying in the arms of their closest friends.  As astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward H.  White and Roger Chafee burned in the launch pad fire aboard Apollo One.  As the world’s schoolchildren watched the Challenger explode, killing teacher Christa McAuliffe and six crew members of the shuttle.


I can’t imagine there will ever be a century again of greater change on this little planet Earth, this five-score years that gave rise to Charles Lindbergh, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  One hundred years from horse-and-carriages to the International Space Station.  From the Pony Express to a world that talks together on the internet, and watches the evening news - from San Francisco to Singapore to Sydney, Australia - on Ted Turner’s CNN, in downtown Atlanta.


Farewell to the Second Millennium: the dawning of the enlightenment fostered by the Magna Carta - the foundation of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution; the minds of Abu Ali al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Stephen Hawking; and, the creations of William Shakespeare; of Michelangelo Di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Pablo Picasso; of Marius Petipa and George Balanchine; of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky.  Truly, the Modern Age.  For now.


And farewell to - 1999.


The New Year, a new century and the Third Millennia is upon us.  The changes are almost too much to absorb: it took from time of the birth of Christ to 1500 AD for the world’s accumulated knowledge to double, and then it took another 200 years, until 1700 AD, to double again.  Today, the sum of all we know doubles every 10 years.


But while change swirls around us, it is built on the foundation of all that has gone before.  All those who have been part of our history and existence live on though all that proceeds them.  Their great wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and foresight that paved our path to the present, underlies the path to the future.  In looking to the certainty of change that future holds for all of us, we are sum of all the past.  I have to pause in gratitude and appreciation, and for guidance, from all they have learned and passed on through us.


I remember when I was a little boy, I was watching one of the space shots with my parents on our black-and-white television, and Walter Cronkite was speaking about the possibility of someday discovering intelligent life on other planets.  My mother started laughing, and said if there was intelligent life on other planets that was capable of observing us, we were certainly giving them a show.


Perhaps the most fitting ending to this Century and this Millennium has already been written.  It was left on a plaque on the surface of the moon twenty years ago by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Neil Armstrong:


We came in peace, for all mankind…

Apollo XI, July 10, 1969



OK, “people-kind” (it’s been a complicated century).



A Very Happy and Special New Year -

With Love and Hugs to All !



  ~  Scott Nilsson

  Atlanta, Georgia - USA /

  Copyright © 2000 by Scott Barricks Nilsson - All Rights Reserved



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