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Mainers Invited To Suggest Items For Bicentennial Time Capsule

The March 2021 unveiling of the star-shaped time capsule where items will be stored in honor of Maine's bicentennial.
University of Maine
The March 2021 unveiling of the star-shaped time capsule where items will be stored in honor of Maine's bicentennial.

As part of its delayed bicentennial celebration, Maine is creating a time capsule to be partly sealed until 2120, the year of Maine's tricentennial, and members of the public are invited to suggest items to be included.

Morning Edition Host Irwin Gratz spoke about the project with state Sen. Bill Diamond, chair of the Maine Bicentennial Commission. Their conversation has been lightly edited for clarity:

Irwin Gratz: I know there are pictures of it out there on the internet, but why don't you describe what the time capsule will look like?

Sen. Bill Diamond: Well, it's going to look like, as we call it, the Dirigo Star. It's going to have several compartments. And one section will be people's choice: the items that the public feels should be placed in the capsule. And so that's going to be very, I think, very exciting. Those submissions, by the way, are still open, anyone can apply or send in their ideas as to what they think should be in the capsule. And what we will do then is the commission will take a look at it and then send it out to them for the people to vote on and it will be truly a people's choice.

(Suggestions for the time capsule can be made here before an Aug. 13 deadline.)

Let's talk about some of the things that so far the public has suggested go into the time capsule,

We've got maybe some currency that we're using today. Someone had suggested the Shah bar (a candy bar named in honor of Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah). We think we'll be putting in a mask or face covering, of course, to remind people what we're going through now. Abbott's COVID test will be put in and probably a Puritan swab, those kinds of things.

We want to make sure that we bring to the future how we're living right now, and some of the things where we're dealing with. It won't all be that, of course, but those are some of the things we think will be in there. We're really excited about what the public may be suggesting, because I suspect it's going to give us a whole new perspective on some things we never thought of.

I said at the top, the capsule will be sort of sealed, because apparently there are plans to add to it over the century.

Yeah. We have capsule keepers. The capsule keeper is anyone who is a Maine resident who was born on the birthday of Maine, that is March 15. They can apply to be a capsule keeper. And their assignment, of course, is to make sure to keep passing on what the purpose of all this is, and every 25 years add something new to the capsule. There'll be space available for that, and so it's an ongoing living time capsule in many ways.

Where will the capsule be placed while it awaits the tricentennial?

Unlike some capsules that as you know, tend to be buried, we want this time capsule to be viewed and seen by the public as much as possible. And so we're going to be when we make the dedication that will be in the Maine State Library. It's really a beautiful piece too. It's made by the University of Maine composite center. They did a great job with it and we're very pleased with that.

What does it say about us that we want to gather a bunch of things, put them in a capsule that others are going to open a century from now when most of us are gone?

For me it says we're proud of the state of Maine. We are proud of where we've come from, we're proud of where we are now. Obviously we've had some bumps and bruises along the way and things we we all wish we could have done differently. But as a whole where we really want to celebrate the state of Maine and and how special we think we are and we want the next several generations to have a piece of what we are now and I think if we can do that, then we've served that purpose.