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  • Writer's pictureAmy Lore

Terre Haute Needs a Hero

Like many of the inner-city kids in Terre Haute, I attended Chauncey Rose Middle School. We often called it “Raunchy Toes,” an affectionate pejorative I now regret using.

That is because I happened to spend some time at Fairbanks Park recently. I climbed from the amphitheater to the brick structure that looks down on the river, where I was surprised to find etched in stone “Chauncey Rose Memorial Plaza.”

I climbed the crumbling steps and found to my delight and shame a series of weather worn plaques highlighting Terre Haute’s original hero. This was a truly great man.

He brought the railroads to Terre Haute and helped industry to prosper here. He funded a hospital, a remarkably successful home for orphans, and the world-famous Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Imagine my disdain to learn that the halls of Chauncey Rose Middle School sat upon the same land where Rose Polytechnic Institute first began.

This was a man who was so full of generosity and passion for future generations that he invested his fortune in it.

We need to talk about him. Talk about his legacy and focus on instilling the spirit of Chauncey Rose into our community. The rose should be owned by Terre Haute as its heritage of philanthropy, industry, and life-giving community.

When you think of Terre Haute, do you think of its hero? Or do you think of that time a gangster was here, or the madams, or the gambling that earned us a less than savory reputation?

Do you think of the good things – highlighted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in a recent article, Vigo County: Racing Ahead or do you think only about what is wrong?

Do you think about contributing or do you think about leaving? Do you encourage or do you denigrate?

I am a firm believer that reform begins in the heart of an individual. Without personal change we cannot hope to change the world, let alone our community. What is in our hearts is what pours out of us, out of our mouths and out of our lives through our deeds and actions.

We can each be the hero Terre Haute and Vigo County needs today.

Visit Fairbanks Park and the Vigo County History Center. Read the memorial to Chauncey Rose. Think about his leadership. Internalize his legacy and ask yourself what can you do here and now to proudly bear that mantle of giving. It could be as simple as restraining yourself from complaining or as crazy as running for public office.

Terre Haute has a historical hero. It needs 50,000 modern day heroes who are proud to live here and are working in word and deed to see this place thrive.

I will leave you with this beautiful piece I found that encapsulates what I want to say. With one eye, I am looking to the present and the future. With the other, I choose to be inspired by the legacy we have in the heroic Chauncey Rose.

Buy a print of this beauty HERE and let the artist (livdeco) know how it is inspiring you!

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