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Opening of the Century Chest
The Colorado College
Keynote speech by
Mary Jane Massey Rust

"History is philosophy teaching by example and also by warning." James Garfield, our 20th president, said that. And Cicero said this, "Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child - If no use is made of the labors of
past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge." And a 19th century French poet named Lamartine wrote, "History is neither more nor less biography on a large scale." Like the ancient god Janus, we tend to look both
backward and forward at those momentous occasions that celebrate the passings of centuries and millennia.

In order to put our local history into its global setting, let's consider what was happening in the rest of the world in the two decades leading up to 1901 - those years when the contributors to this century chest were creating a history of their own.
Here's what was going on:

Tsar Alexander II of Russia was assassinated; Britain struggled with Irish home rule; Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn; Roentgen discovered x-rays; Max Plank introduced the quantum theory, thus founding modern physics; the United States
gained the Philippine Islands and Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War; The Boxer Rebellion in China was quashed;
and automobiles came into use.

Meanwhile, back at this ranch, life was changing as it always does. Those who put together a chest full of messages to the future would probably have had no problem with this description of their own early days:

"The setting for Palmer's resort was anything but promising. Two small creeks, Monument and Fountain, trickled through the treeless desert of yucca and buffalo grass. The townsite was high - six thousand feet above sea level . . . Palmer was not interested in building a boomtown like Denver to the north. What he saw . . . was the peaceful grandeur of Pikes Peak occupying a wilderness of spectacular beauty. The climate was, well, interesting - delightful one day and awful the next. The tonic air was so clear that planets at night beamed like moons. Here, Palmer told himself, was a tailor-made space where men and women would enjoy the gift of life - not just any sort of men and women, but those peculiar souls who wanted to be happy first and successful later on, if things happened that way." Our own 20th century storyteller, Marshall Sprague, wrote those words.

Those special men and women in their carefully created resort city obviously had a desire to communicate with their unborndescendants some five generations into the future. They considered themselves prominent citizens representing every phase
of business, education, the arts and sociology. And so they meticulously packed letters, photographs and a variety of publications in a chest to be opened "after midnight December 31st A.D. 2000."

On August 4th, 1901, during the dedication activities as this chest was securely closed, Louis Ehrich delivered an address to us - the citizens of Colorado Springs of the 21st century. He described General Palmer, who was still alive, of course, as a
man "overflowing with Posteritism." That interesting word summed up Mr. Ehrich's thoughts as he spoke his hopes for those who would open the chest 100 years later. He wrote, "May in that era the irritating questions of our color, of religion, and of
class, have ceased to exist! May the close physical relationship of every animal, human and non-human, have come to be

Non-humans? He even seems to have suspected that there might be not only animals and humans, but also non-humans to contend with by now. Did he foresee creatures of other places in the universe? Well, seriously, though, he did hope for the future with these words: "May patriotism have expanded into a flame of justice and of fraternal devotion for every race that inhabits this globe! Have we measured up?

Mary Jane Massey Rust

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