What I learned from this year’s summer OlympicsAs the closing ceremony marked the end of the Olympics I couldn’t help but think of all that I have learned from this year’s Olympics.
One: heroes come in all shapes and sizes, colors and backgrounds. Seeing these amazing athletes give their all has been inspiring. Everyone has a story to tell. Many of these men and women have overcome adversity and overwhelming odds. The athletes without a country, some without homes. The beautiful Tori Bowie, who didn’t let being from rural Mississippi and being raised by her grandmother slow her down. If anything, it made her stronger. There were so many stories, stories of perseverance, stories of loss, stories of love and determination.
Second: you don’t have to win a medal to be a hero. The young women who supported each other after crashing into each other during the one of the races were true heroes. The woman from New Zealand who finished the race last, injured but she finished, she was a hero. The young man who beat the odds and won in lane eight when no one has ever won in lane eight. The comradery of the competitors no matter their countries. The support of team mates after disqualification or disappointments. This is heroism. Some of my favorites didn’t win medals, some didn’t even get to compete. My heart ached for those disqualified for a misstep or false start. To have worked so hard and come so far and miss their chance, for those who chose to try again, you are heroes. For those who went on to other battles, it takes courage to go on.
Third: Brazil’s opening ceremony, honoring the slaves who built their country. The United States could learn from this. Instead of trying to pretend slavery didn’t happen, The US would do well to honor the men and women who sacrificed so much to make our country great. The black slaves of the south, the displaced Native Americans, the Chinese who built the railroads, the Irish immigrants, the Mexicans, the Jews, the Japanese and German Americans who spent World War II in camps on US soil. We have many things to be ashamed of and yet, we are a country of progress. Seeing the colorful array of Americans competing in the Olympics this year says we have come a long way. But we as Americans have further to go. Let us celebrate our differences and learn from each other. Let us become stronger as a country, like a team who learns from each of its members. We are a team, team USA.