A legacy is a strange thing. Someone can create a legacy simply by making a mistake, like Spencer Silver, who accidentally created the Post-It note while trying to improve liquid adhesives. Other times it is a purposeful endeavor, like Walt Disney’s dream of redesigning animation and creating America’s most successful theme park.
Or consider the space shuttle Discovery, which flew for the very last time aboard another plane on April 17, 2014. Two days later Discovery’s wheels stopped in the Udvar Hazy Center. With thirty-nine missions, it spent more time in space than any other shuttle. Discovery brought hope to NASA in light of the devastating losses of the Challenger and the Columbia. Discovery’s legacy is one that will not soon be forgotten.
But what does a legacy mean for those of us who have never designed a multimillion dollar sticky note or an animated, talking mouse? What if a man is born, lives a normal life, and then dies without incident? Does he still leave a legacy?
The answer is yes. His legacy may not be known all around the world, but that does not mean that he did not leave one. His legacy is known to his friends, his family, maybe even the neighbor down the street. If someone has a legacy, it means that he changed someone’s life one way or another. This does not mean that he did something heroic to help another person, but in a small ways he brought happiness or hope to those around him.
Humans were made for this. We were made to help each other through big and small things, and by doing so we leave a map showing where we have been and whose lives we have touched. Nobody needs to find a ground breaking idea or star in their own television show in order to be important. Importance is measured by what we do with the time that we are given here on Earth, and by simply being ourselves we can create our own legacy that is greater than any space shuttle.
By Sarah McDaniel, Class of 2017