I managed to get a commentary out for Prosper about each of the speakers at Perspectives 2006 except one. By the time former Senator Bob Dole had finished, the event was over and it was a mad rush to get out of the convention center. Dole was really two speakers rolled up into one. There was the witty, funny, spontaneous and engaging personal Dole and then there was the dry, political and oh so Republican Dole. Although the first personality opened and closed the "Dole Show," he would have done better to fire his speechwriter and just be himself for the middle.
Not much to say about a former senator and American hero? Perhaps, but the moment's gone. It was three days ago. There was a moment, however, that I still can vividly remember. It stirred feelings in me that similar circumstances always do. It's never a surprise but is surprising nonetheless. It was the opening ceremonies.
The Sacramento Sheriff's Department, dressed in their finest dress uniforms and with all the military pomp that is appropriate, presented the colors just prior to stirring rendition of our national anthem. I always get goosebumps when I hear it and this time it was performed by a choir that just nailed it! It almost brought tears to my eyes... and I was not alone.
The point of recounting this experience is not to convey the patriotism and national pride the moment brought - indeed, words cannot describe - but rather to show how something as simple as a flag and a song can unite an otherwise diverse collection of individuals. In that moment, those precious few minutes, we were Americans, nothing more, nothing less - and that was enough. It didn't matter how each of us felt about the president, our foreign or domestic policy - even terrorism, we were united as Americans.
The Star Spangled Banner came to us in a way that is truly and uniquely American. A battlefield poem set to the tune of a British drinking song - its heritage mirrors our own. It's curious, really... how one song can release that kind of pride and emotion. I remember it as a child, when my parents took my siblings and me to the Stanford University home football games. There was this cannon that was only fired on two occasions: Whenever Stanford scored and when the marching band played our national anthem “...and the rocket's red glare."
There they are again - goosebumps.