Twenty years in the course of human history is not much. Even by Archbishop Usher's conservative calculation that recorded history started in 4004 b.c., 20 years accounts for only three-tenths of 1 percent of all the time humans have occupied the earth. If you accept more common traditions of the earth's age, 20 years is an even thinner sliver.
So to tell you that WORLD magazine has been publishing for the last 20 years will seem to some nothing more than a tiny footnote of history. And such an evaluation will be confirmed for many when they discover that a stack of all 855 issues published by WORLD during those 20 years will barely reach a normal 8-foot ceiling.
I happen to know that bit of trivia because I stacked up all my file copies a few days ago on the floor next to my desk and measured them for myself. Because I am 3 inches shorter than 6 feet tall, I had to glance up to see the most recent issue, which was Volume 21, Number 10. Then I ran my eyes up and down the wobbly column, and tried to estimate how many gallons of blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention ink, toner, gasoline, correction fluid, and other consumables) might have been involved in creating that stack.
Almost every issue stirred a memory. No one of them changed the course of world events-which is hardly the role of a newsmagazine, in any case. But here and there in the modest stack were issues that helped remind me of the goals I had for WORLD when we launched the magazine in 1986. From the 855 issues, I pulled out a dozen that illustrate some of our key successes-and a few that came close but missed. Even from those, there are things to learn.
A look back at the key issues from . . .