Opinion: Building a Legacy

By Carla Charter

Those who know me, know that I have been writing for as long as I could hold a pen. Along the way I have met many memorable mentors. Mentors who helped me reach the next rung of my legacy while simultaneously building their own legacy.

These legacies, theirs and mine and thousands of others, did not happen overnight. Building a legacy takes time and effort, step by step and day by day. It’s not easy. In fact it’s a bit like climbing a mountain. It’s only when you occasionally hit a plateau, a place to take a breath and look back that you are impressed with how far you have come. It is then that you realize that the legacy you are building is bigger than the next article or the next essay. Those are only words on pages designed to lift you up, to put the next rung within reach. As you climb, like your mentors before you, you help and encourage the climbers below you. Not knowing what their legacy is about, but somehow knowing it is as important as yours. Recognizing as well, that your journey has been made easier by the legacies that were built before you.

However never in my writing journey have I moved my legacy forward by destroying someone else’s legacy. In my opinion, our energies should be used to build the next level of our own legacies not tearing down others legacies. Another’s story is not your own, which is as it should be. Their journey is not ours. However, their unique legacy should be embraced even as we build our own legacy bridge to the future, day by day, week by week and year by year.

The former president of Quinnipiac University, Dr. John Lahey, under his 31 year presidency grew the Hamden Connecticut College from 1,900 to 10,000 students. More importantly he made it into a world class resource for Irish Studies and Great Hunger Art. The college as well became a fixture at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Now that legacy appears to be at risk under a new administration. who does not see the worth in in her predecessors legacy. Irish central.com reports that according to a source, when she first visited the museum the new president Judy Olian stated “This is John’s museum.” If the source was correct, in that she was mistaken. This is not John’s Museum. It is the country’s museum. It is the world’s museum. It belongs to the descendants of all the famine survivors, and through the stories the museum tells, will hopefully help to ensure a Great Hunger never happens again. It’s art teaches about more than a dark time in Irish history. It educates all of us, particularly future generations, on wider themes of immigration, refugees and famine.

What President Olian may not understand, what many do not seem to understand these days, is that we need former President Lynch’s legacy. We need all of our legacies. For our individual legacies are what move our country forward as a whole. Yet as we move forward we will hopefully realize it is essential to record our past and preserve their legacy.