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Rachel Parsley
Friday, October 13, 2017

Bicentennial Rotunda
Photo by Rachel Parsley

On October 6, 1817, Thomas Jefferson, then Rector of UVA’s Board of Visitors, James Madison, member of the Board of Visitors, and James Monroe, then fifth President of the United States, ceremoniously laid the Cornerstone of the University of Virginia near present day Pavilion XII.

200 years later, on Friday, October 6, 2017, over 20,000 UVA students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their family and friends, as well as members of the Charlottesville community, gathered on the historic Lawn to witness a birthday party of epic proportions.

The Bicentennial Launch Celebration that evening marked the official start of ongoing events to commemorate the founding of the University of Virginia.

I attended the celebration, along with my daughter. She is, at the age of five, a mini, self-professed Jefferson historian, so there’s no way she would have let me miss it! We were thrilled to watch the performances, hear the music, and witness such a spectacular presentation of two centuries of UVA stories. It was an absolutely incredible evening, which included a variety of culture, arts, history, and special guests.

A highlight of many in attendance was an incredible, projection mapping technology that brought to life some of the most influential events in the history of the University, right on the south side of the Rotunda.

Among it all, I was especially struck by one very poignant remark:

“We are the ink of a future yet written.”

UVA’s history, its legacy, and its future, belong to all of us. We are all a part of it. Whether we know it or not, the work we do, the discoveries we make, and the pride we show for our great University each and every day will create the stories that those 200 years from now will celebrate, commemorate, and ink into the indelible history of UVA, hopefully, with another big birthday party on the Lawn.

You can read more about the Bicentennial Celebration, and see pictures and videos, here and here.