The University of Denver and Colorado State University today announced the inaugural event launching Bridges to the Future: American History and Values in Light of September 11th. The yearlong program will kick off Sept. 23 with an evening featuring John Glenn, former U.S. astronaut and senator from Ohio, as well as Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, CSU President Albert C. Yates and DU Chancellor Daniel L. Ritchie.
In addition to announcing the opening event, Bridges to the Future organizers today also confirmed other participants in the schedule of events, which includes panel discussions, performances, lectures, recommended readings and teaching tools. Confirmed speakers include public servant and author William Bennett, who will share the stage with journalist Cokie Roberts. Other speakers include General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, columnist and author George Will and author and organizational consultant Margaret Wheatley. Additional announcements will follow in the coming weeks.
The universities also announced plans for a statewide essay contest to capture Colorado citizens’ views on American values. With primary, secondary and collegiate education categories, as well as an open category for the general public, the contest challenges participants to examine and define American values important for life in the 21st century. Essays should address "What value or values are important to you, and why?" (See attached sidebar.)
Bridges to the Future is a yearlong program envisioned by Ritchie and Yates as a way to involve people and communities from across Colorado in a dynamic conversation about the nation’s heritage, experiences and values and their significance at home and in the world in light of the events of September 11th.
"Our goal is to engage the communities and people of Colorado in honoring, exploring and renewing our shared commitment to public values," Yates said. "Coloradans can expect the events of Bridges to the Future to provide challenging and stimulating content throughout the year, and Senator Glenn’s appearance will set the stage for an exciting and important year."
The inaugural event, slated for Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at DU’s Ritchie Center, 2201 E. Asbury Ave., is free to the public. The event will feature remarks from Glenn, who flew 59 missions as a Marine Corps pilot during World War II and an additional 90 missions in the Korean War. In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth by circling the planet three times in space capsule Friendship 7. He retired from the space program in 1964 and continued his public service as a U.S. Senator from Ohio from 1975 to 1999. In 1998, at age 77, he made his second spaceflight as part of the crew of the space shuttle Discovery, becoming the oldest person to fly in space.
"It is gratifying to have a national leader of John Glenn’s stature join us for the first event in the Bridges to the Future series," Ritchie said. "Senator Glenn is a true American hero whose life exemplifies a commitment to service, and we look forward to his insights on American values."
A web site with more information on Bridges to the Future, including additional details for the inaugural event, will debut Aug. 30 at www.bridgestothefuture.us.