So much about sports is the hard stuff, the hours spent running and roller skiing, the tiredness that seeps into the body from all the training, or the feelings of disappointment that can linger when one does not fully reach their potential in a competition. Fortunately, the Team USA visit to the White House is not like this. At all. The US Olympic Committee really takes care of the returning Olympians. I got flown in to the nation's capitol from Zurich, picked up at the airport, and ushered to a Hilton on the Virginia side of Washington D.C.
The first day in the Nation's Capitol, I was whisked away to Capitol Hill. It was fascinating to see the U.S. Congress in action. While so many times it might not seem like the political system doesn't feel like it's working, I can tell you Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Amy Kobluchar (D-Minn.) were operating at some of the highest levels I've seen in business or politics.
The Hill just hummed with the energy of efficiency and purpose. And what looked like the just about all the young, hungry, over-worked, under-paid interns in America. A peak into a different world, for sure.
Who knew walking the Senate halls I'd run into the moose. Also interesting, every Capitol Hill member I met not-so-subtlety mentioned that on the close of the business week in DC they were on a plane back to their home constituents. Every week.
Another cool point of mention is how both Team USA and the Olympic movement is the respect of opportunities given to Paralympians. The Olympic movement prescribes to the Greek (and not English) meaning to the prefix para: "at or to one side, beside, side by side." When you think about it, this is a refrain of the most beautiful quality.
On April 7th, NBC will play the "Best of US" television special we filmed while on the White House visit. If you tune in, you'll get to hear Paralympian downhiller Mark Bathum (pictured above) give an acceptance speech that should send shivers up your spine. I know it did mine.
For an American writer, I think the most revered recognition of your work would be to have your book in the Presidential library. Every book in there was written by an American, with the exception of the Qiran and the Bible. Maybe it was mostly the setting, but the book I most wanted to pick up off the shelves was one titled "The Making of an American." How can you not but wonder how you'd measure up?
I can think of no better ending to this large helping of patriotic words and images than to play for you a little video I put together for Mr. Haberberger's class following the conclusion of the Sochi Games:
"Never curb your enthusiasm. Put the whole of yourself into it." -Percy Cerutty
To the best of times. And those that will be. -Torin