Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Letter From New York July 4, 2010

July 4, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Sometime during the Graduation Ceremony for the Hudson High School Class of 2010, I thought that everyone should attend a high school graduation once in awhile. The entire ceremony was an uplifting, enlightening moment in time, inspiring and hopeful, reminding me of some of the many good things that are happening in the world.

I was there was because I had been invited by Christopher Wollcott, a graduate of the 2010 class of Hudson High School. I have known Christopher since he was about ten years old. I first met him on a Saturday morning at my favorite bistro, the Red Dot. I was having brunch on a rainy day and Alana, the owner, had found he and his sister out wandering in the rain. She brought them in. They sat at a table and dried out. I don’t know whether that was the first time he was at the Dot but he has been pretty much a fixture around there ever since. He graduated from odd jobs to bus boy to waiter all the while guided by Alana, who took him under her personal wing. I love Alana, not the least for what she has done for Christopher.

He was a kid who might have not made it through high school. He could have been one of the ones who dropped out. Certainly, many of his friends didn’t make it all the way through. But Christopher did.

He eventually came with me on Saturday afternoons, helping me with errands, stacking wood, sorting things for me from business – a little of this, a lot of that and always cheerful company. As he grew, he developed into a responsible young man. He is special and has won the support of many a folk. Dini and Wendle, who own one of the town’s B&B’s, have had him work for them. Steve and Judi have helped him get the orthodontic work he needed. He is a loved person. And he loves back.

So it was with a great deal of emotion that I walked into the auditorium of Hudson High School. We stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and I found my heartstrings pulled. When the National Anthem was sung, tears came to my eyes. There were speeches by the Principal and the local State Assemblyman. The Principal called the Class of 2010 a special class, one of loving individuals. They seemed to be all of that. They made national news when they elected two gay boys the King and Queen of the Prom. There were no outraged protests from anyone, either at school or in the town. The Class was giving a nod to two of their own, with perhaps a wry wink.

The Valedictorian was a young man from Bangladesh who had arrived in Hudson at the beginning of his freshman year, unable to speak more than a few words of English. Hard work, very hard work, had propelled him to the top of his class. The Salutatorian was a young lady who thanked her family, all of them, from mother and father to step-mother and step-father, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters.

The crowd stood and applauded as a high school diploma was granted to a Viet Nam vet who had never gotten one. There was a moment of silence when the parents of a student who had died during the year came to the stage to accept an honorarium from the Class of 2010.

The diplomas were given out. Several high-spirited young men moon danced their way back to their seats after picking up their diplomas. Cheers were given when the last diploma was handed out and the crowd, as one, stood to give a standing ovation to the Class of 2010, about to go on to the next phase of their lives.

It was altogether a fabulously moving experience, one that will resonate with me for a long time to come because it brought together so many good things: patriotism, love, generosity, caring, mourning, celebrating, exuberance all married together in one afternoon in America.

Letter From New York February 27, 2010

February 28, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

As I begin to write this, I am watching the 2010 Winter Olympics – as I have done often during the last two weeks. It has been interesting to me that I have spent so much time on this Olympics, more than I have on any other. I have asked myself frequently why I have become so engaged with this event? Certainly I can’t remember any other Olympics in which I have become so engaged.

Perhaps it is because the U.S. is doing well and, God knows, we could use some good news – it has been pretty unremittingly awful for a long time now. Or is it that I am so aware of winter this year, writing while I am watching the Olympics and while the Northeast is struggling through another brutal winter storm, making me hyper aware of winter and its challenges.

Perhaps it is that having been in meetings back to back from the time [it seems] I have brushed my teeth in the morning until the time I have brushed my teeth at night, I wanted something that had nothing to do with anything else I was doing – escape. The Winter Olympics provided me with that, thank God.

There was a lot to escape from – the back-to-back meetings, for example. And then there was the former coffee cart worker who pleaded guilty this week to conspiring to blow up a bomb on a subway here in New York. The morning I heard that on the radio I didn’t get on the subway, a visceral response to an admitted threat. I was, for a moment, afraid. No wonder bobsled racing seemed interesting.

I had my favorites in Women’s Figure Skating. I wanted what was the actual result – the wonderful Korean for Gold, the magnificent Japanese for Silver and the very brave Canadian Joannie for Bronze, she who ice danced to a medal despite the death of her mother at the outset of the Games.

I had no idea who Lindsey Vonn was prior to these Games; same for Apolo Ohno – had no idea he had won Gold in Torino. Now I do. And I am following him now. All of this is a bit of a mystery to me – how did I and why did I become so engaged in these Games?
It was because I wanted escape. Escape from the back-to-back meetings. Escape from the man who wanted to bomb the subways. Escape from the unrelenting reality of the winter storms that have clogged the Northeast. Escape. Not a bad thing, I think.

The Olympics are reality, a reality as real as the snow and slush that dominate the streets of New York tonight. Men and women pushing themselves to the edge of what they or any human can do. It is inspiring to watch, humbling to see, awe inducing at the end. It has been an inspiring spectacle to watch. And a great escape from the endless meetings.