Happy New Yearby Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 1/2000

Well, we made it.

The lights are still on, the computers didn’t crash, the planes stayed in the sky, ATMs still gave us cash, the nuclear missiles remained nestled all snug in their silos, and we had enough water and food.

It’s time to knock on the doors of all those bomb shelters in Arkansas and Montana and let them know that Y2K wasn’t the end of the world. Then again, the rest of us are probably safer if all those shotgun-toting, canned good stocking folks stay right where they are.

Surprisingly, after years of reading about Y2K and apocalyptic events ad neaseum, it has been an amazing, and exciting couple of days. The reality was much better than the hype.

On December 31, I was up at the hour my Army friend Sean refers to as “Oh-Dark-Thirty” to see the initial 2000 transition in New Zealand. Like the manned moon landing and the wedding of Charles and Diana, it was something I wanted to see live. I’m glad I did.

Hours later, I arrived at work and was pleased to see that the Internet was still on-line. CNN provided up to the minute coverage of year 2000’s hourly progress across the Earth. Happily, there were no major noteworthy Y2K glitches. Hour after hour, the Y2K problems proved to be minor inconveniences and nothing more. Everything was still working.

(While some may now say the Y2K thing was over-hype, it is important to remember that the reason Y2K barely registered a hiccup on most systems is that people all over the world have been working for four years to fix the problem.)

As New Year’s Eve progressed, I found myself in absolute awe at the spectacle I was observing on television. Never in our lives have we seen such a perfect use of our amazing communications technology. This time, it wasn’t a tragedy or war that glued us to the TV — it was to share the joy of all people. In an unprecedented 24-hour broadcast, the entire planet watched a jubilant and exciting event unfold. Humanity shined this past weekend. As a planet, as a global community, as a family, we shined. Sure, it seemed that there was a friendly brand of national rivalry going on, with many countries trying to out-do each other’s celebrations, but what we really saw was a world-wide party and sense of community.

We saw images that will stay us forever: The spectacular meeting of old and new at the pyramids. The Eiffel Tower exploding in so many pyrotechnics It seemed ready to launch into space. The River Themes aflame with fireworks. A blizzard of confetti in a jam-packed Times Square. Dancing in China. Fireworks over Red Square. The frail Holy Father making a speech to the a crowd in the Vatican. The people of Berlin, united in celebration. And except for Iran, which celebrated the new century by calling for the destruction of Israel, it seemed that everyone else in the world was partying. Dancing. Singing. Rejoicing.

For what now seems like such a fleeting moment, we put aside all our concerns, problems and feuds, and concentrated on going to the party. We celebrated at home, with friends and family, and in gatherings large and small. There has never been a day like this one.

There were no bombs, no killing, no martial law, and no Armageddon. The threats of terrorism and violence were quietly dealt with behind the scenes — we may never know what might have happened, what almost happened, but here’s to everyone who protected the rest of us.

Much has been written and much will be written about this New Year’s to end all New Year’s. We have just witnessed something very unique, very special. We have celebrated something bigger than each of us. Something that will never happen again.

Things haven’t changed much, but we’ve all changed. We’ve all been to the party. We’ve all had the tiniest glimpse of how good things in the world could really be.

A new age has arrived. While the future is always uncertain, the one thing that can be said with absolute certainty is this: We have started on the right foot.

Great millennium lines I:

The guy being interviewed by ABC’s Peter Jennings, explaining how the date turnover went from in the LAST millennium (from A.D. 999 to 1000):




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