10/11/19 Millennium Sundial Rededication, Charles Walker, Bob Foerster

1999 Millennium Sundial Chair Bob Foerster stands alongside NASA astronaut Charles Walker in the Big Four Depot at the end of the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge. Walker spoke about sundials as an ancient technology and the importance of time during the Millennium Sundial rededication. 

Greater Lafayette citizens watched as elected officials rededicated the 1999 Millennium Sundial sculpture Friday, celebrating 20 years of community change.

The sculpture stands on the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge and was erected in 1999 to celebrate the millennium, a challenge from then-Governor Frank O’Bannon.

At the sundial rededication ceremony Friday in the Amtrak station, Bob Foerster, the 1999 Millennium Sundial Committee Chair, described how Governor O’Bannon challenged committees across the state with four questions.

“They were to consider these questions when they moved forward with their plans for their community celebration. What is our past? Where are we today? What do we want to be in the future? And how do we make that vision a reality?” Foerster said.

Part of making a vision for the future a reality is planning, Foerster said, and he commended the excellent planning that has helped shape Greater Lafayette into a vibrant economic center.

West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh, and Executive Director of the Area Plan Commission Sallie Fahey established October as Community Planning Month for Greater Lafayette and surrounding towns.

The increase in public art in the area has been a result of such planning. The Millennium committee commissioned sculptor David Aho of Hibbing, Minnesota, to create the stainless steel sundial. Local arts patron Jan Andre Bootsma funded the construction of the sundial.

“I'm deeply honored that your community have chosen to rededicate this sundial today, confirming the importance you place on science, the arts in urban planning,” Aho said in a statement read by Foerster. The sundial is an ancient technology for measuring time and symbolizes a passing of the millennium, he said.

“When the full Millennium committee decided that the community should have an object such as a fountain, statue, garden or something to leave for future generations to see, the concept of a large, artistic and functional sundial was accepted as the perfect solution,” Foerster said in a 1999 press release about the sundial.

Astronaut Charles Walker, who travelled 8.2 million miles in space during his three space missions with NASA spoke at the sundial ceremony.

“We have to respect time, because it marches on. And it takes its toll. But it also gives, it gives us an opportunity,” Walker said. “I look forward to reflecting on it again in another 20 years, and do our best as individuals, as a community, as a collection of communities in this county, in this state, to make the best — the best — of not only our time, but of the time that goes by.”

Fahey also shared her hopes for the future of Tippecanoe County, including a list of 10 specific changes she would hope to see achieved in the next 20 years. She spoke about diversifying employment options, improving public transportation, and preparing the county for the growth of autonomous vehicles.

Foerster concluded the ceremony with a poem by Henry Van Dyke about a sundial:

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”

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