Adjacent to the National Archives stands a John Russell Pope statue titled, “The Future.” It depicts a young woman who lifts her head from a book and looks into the future. On the base are words from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. “What is past is Prologue.”
The twelve years between 1993 and 2005 constituted a period of “coming out” for the State of Utah. The Olympic Games, the advent the internet and Utah’s shift to a high tech capital; population booms characterized by dramatic demographic changes and new challenges of urban growth; changing attitudes toward the environment, and the necessity of retooling rural Utah’s economy. It was a time of reshaping for the Beehive State. It was a period of profound importance in America. The lessons learned from navigating that period may be even more important for Utah’s future. “What is Past is Prologue.”
Lessons of past experience need to be written down. However, history is illusive and capturing it is best accomplished when those actually involved give focused attention and reflection. Prospective, that only time provides, combined with access to documents, artifacts and news reports can stimulate memories bringing back stories, freshen recollection of undocumented conversations, dynamics and cross pressures that shaped events.
The office of Governor provides a unique platform to view the mix of sociology, politics, economics and culture that occur during any period. I donated my personal records and artifacts to Southern Utah University. When combined with records held in the Utah Archives they constitute a rare glimpse into nearly 10% of the time Utah has been a state. Just having the records does not preserve the learning. The lessons of those 12 years need to be brought to life through an inclusive and systematic process of reflection, discussion and scholarship.