Antioch College recently began a campaign to reopen the school. News reports reminded people of its origins and founder, Horace Mann. Mann gave a compelling commencement speech in 1859 that contained a line that became the college’s motto. Mann said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
Mann died a few weeks after delivering the speech. The motto so impressed Antioch alumnus Rod Serling that he included it as a major factor in one of his “Twilight Zone” teleplays. In the show, a competent but rather obscure professor ponders retirement while depressed about the thought that he had done nothing of significance, quoting Mann in the process. As the episode progresses, the professor is part of a vision in which his students from the past visit him and encourage him that his teaching along with his acts of kindness and service were not forgotten, but in fact multiplied as each of his students did their deeds and made a difference in their corners of the world. The professor then faced his retirement with the joy of knowing he had won a victory for humanity.
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