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An Emotional Ending to an Exciting Event

Posted by Bill Prosecky on September 14, 2008

The closing ceremonies of the past week’s Centennial celebration were nothing short of another knockout for the Journalism school. Dean Mills of the Journalism school was the first speaker of the night. Mills, like much of the audience, seemed to still be in awe of the grandeur and excitement that had taken place over the previous three days. He expressed his sincere thanks not only to the students of the J-school and the alumni who had returned, but also to Suzette Heiman and Ashlee Erwin, the two ladies, who, as Mills stated, were the real people behind this entire celebration.

Following his speech, Mills introduced the first segment of the evening, a video presentation of “Telling the Story, Fair and True”, with musical accompaniment provided by the MU Department of Music. The video featured famous historic images of the past one hundred years, including those of President Truman holding up the newspaper reading “Dewey Defeats Truman”, of Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech, of an airplane in flight about to crash into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and, in perhaps one of the most striking images of the entire ceremony, split-screen images of soldiers lifting the flag at Iwo Jima and of firefighters lifting the flag at Ground Zero on 9/11. Dean Mills summed up the presentation by calling it an “extraordinary convergence piece.”

The second presentation of the night was a reading by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko of a poem that he commissioned specifically for this occasion, entitled “The Lead Honorarium”. Yevtushenko not only read the poem, he performed it, displaying moods of anger, sadness, and disbelief, as he conveyed the stories of several Russian journalists who had been murdered, many of whom were close friends of Yevtushenko. His performance was nothing short of powerful, as his voice boomed throughout the arena and into the hearts of the audience members. Dean Mills, afterward, stated that maybe if poetry was performed that way in America, then maybe we would all be a little more interested in poetry in this country.

The final presentation of the night was an encore showing of a video entitled “Coming Home Again”, which had also been shown during the opening ceremonies on Wednesday night. The video showed images and videos of the MU campus and of famous MU alumni. Dean Mills wrapped up the presentation with a tongue-in-cheek comment that he wishes to see us all back here in the next 100 years.

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