As we approach the new year of 2011, I can’t help but remember my father’s observation as a pharmacist in the 1980s. He said, “We’ve had more changes in the last 50 years in medicine than in all the years prior.” Of course, the changes that transpired in those immediately previous 50 years emerged from the foundation of work by generations of scientists. After all, the first concocted antibiotic wasn’t developed until sulfanilamide and penicillin in the early part of the 20th century. As I contemplate the last 100 years, inspired by the recent loss of my great-uncle Gene at 103, I took a gander at what he had seen in his lifetime.
In the last 10 decades, we’ve seen the Nobel Prize for physics go to Madame Marie Curie (France) for the discovery of the elements, radium and polonium in 1911. 50 years later, in 1961, this same prize was awarded to Robert Hofstadtler (United States) for his determination of the shape and size of atomic nuclei. A mere 10 years ago, in 2001, the award went to Wolfgang Ketterle (Germany), Eric A. Cornell, and Carl E. Wieman (United States), for discovering a new state of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate . Imagine! A new state of matter, theorized by Albert Einstein, but not proved until this group did so. This year, we will see new weights established for the periodic table. We have seen the extinction of animals and diseases and the rise of others.
As we enter 2011, diving into the year 5772 in the Hebrew calendar, 4708 in the Chinese calendar, 1432 in the Islamic calendar, or the Mayan long count of 126.96.36.199.0, our lives have been changed dramatically by many events. We have seen wars and conflicts in Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, to name a few. The Berlin Wall has been built and destroyed. Cultural revolutions have fulmugated around the world. We have witnessed the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, and the election of an African-American president of the United States.
We have seen unfathomable growth and challenges in the last century including the change in perception between the First World War when little was thought about homosexuals at all to the current day when homosexuals will be allowed to openly serve in the military. We have moved from a time when a Black person couldn’t marry a White person to today when gays are marrying in some states in the U.S. The economy has seen boons and busts throughout the century including the Great Depression in the 1930s. Here are some other interesting tidbits:
Year Fed. Spending  Fed. Debt  Postage  UI Rate 
(In billions) (In billions)
1911 $ .69 $ 0.o $ .02 6.7%
1961 97.72 292.6 .04 5.5%
2001 1,864.00 5,807.o .34 4.8%
2011 3,833.90 1,266.7 .46 9.6%
I suppose with all this reminiscing about our past, the next logical step would be to imagine what will be in our future. I’d rather not. Not because I think things will be worse, but because it won’t serve any purpose. The real question is, where are we now?
On a personal level, I have lost my entire adopted family of origin, but I have found my family of birth. I have encountered family members from seven generations born between 1881 and 2003. I’ve changed careers from working in a pharmacy in the 1970s to being a music educator today. I’ve had the pleasure to see my husband, children, and grandchildren all working toward growing their successes. I have returned to school to complete my education. If my family is a microcosm of America, which it may be, then one can extrapolate that although things have been tough, we have our eyes on making things better. We are stepping back to get a good view of where we are, and taking steps to improve our situation.
January 1, 2011, is, I suspect, a preparatory time toward a major shift in our lives. We, as a family and as a country, are readying ourselves for a giant leap forward. What shape that will take, I don’t know. We are talking about our spirits. We are valuing our children in a more vibrant way. We are demanding a better education for them. We are begging for art and beauty. We are striving for unity. These are all good things that I believe will make us stronger, wiser, and more solid as a national and world community.
I welcome the coming new year with everything it has to bring. Gratitude permeates every fiber of my being as I look forward to the forthcoming 365 days. So, in that gratitude, I say in anticipation of the coming celebration, Happy New Year and welcome to 2011!
 Infoplease.com (2010) List of Nobel Prize winners for Physics. Retrieved from http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0105785.html
 USGovernmentSpending.com (2010) [Data] Retrieved fromhttp://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2011_0.html
 U.S. Postal Service (2010) News Release: New Rates Retrieved from http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2010/pr10_064.htm
 Forcasts.org (2010) Unemployment figures (Data) Retrieved from http://www.forecasts.org/unemploy.htm
(2010) “Happy New Year 2011” [Photograph] Retrieved from http://win7dl.com
(2010) “Human Arrow” [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://ypg-prioryroad.com
(2010) “Marie Curie” [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://reich-chemistry.wikispaces.com