A couple of weeks ago I stopped at Rogers Island Visitor Center in Fort Edward, New York. I knew the place wasn’t open but I wanted to at least stop for a moment, look around and give a nod to the legacy of Robert Rogers, who used this island as a launching place for much of the fighting his Rangers did during the French and Indian War to the north of this place. Rogers Island is strategically situated on the Hudson River and well known to the Native American, French, British and Americans who travelled these waters to “The Great Carrying Place” where you’d need to portage your canoe or Bateau boat on your trek to Lake George and points north.
Rogers Island is considered the birthplace of the US Army Special Forces and holds a special place in the hearts of US Army Rangers to this day. I wasn’t in the Rangers myself, but recognize the significance of the tactics developed by Rogers. They essentially mirrored the tactics used by Native American warriors and added a few wrinkles of their own. That’s a post for another time.
While walking around I spent a few minutes reading the historical signs placed around the property and considering the commemorative garden that was just starting to bud on the April day I visited. My eye was naturally drawn to the monument dedicated to those who fought and died in wars engaged in by the United States and I walked up to better view it. While there I noticed the tablet on the ground marking the time capsule commemorating the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War. This capsule is scheduled to be opened in the year 2055.
Time capsules are a message to future generations. Schools do these all the time, and add things that are meaningful to the people who are participating in the event. But the funny thing about time capsules is that in all likelihood you won’t be around when they open it. Sure, 50 years gives you a fighting chance, but life is full of twists and turns and there’s no guarantee of anything except death. So burying the artifacts of life is akin to a message in a bottle thrown in the ocean. You’ll likely never see it again, but you hope that someone will and whatever message you give to them will be meaningful in some way.
Time capsules are all around us, and you don’t have to bury some safe in the ground to make one. My time capsules to future generations are the lilacs I planted along the property line, or the trees I planted out front. They’re the bathroom I renovated in Pocasset and the words I’m writing now. By this measure I look for similar offerings from those who came before me. Mostly my time capsule is the way I conduct myself and how that influences others for the better or worse as others continue to influence me. I won’t be here forever but I hope my legacy will be positive beyond the generations who actually know me. Time will tell, but it won’t tell me.