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It was a beautiful day for sailing, and our friend Dave had invited us to go out on Long Island Sound with him and his wife. It was not hard to decide whether to go. The Sound was relatively calm that day - there was a very gentle breeze and not a cloud in the sky - but suddenly Dave announced to us, "We're heading in." I couldn't think of a single, rational reason to waste the rest of such an idyllic afternoon. I said, "Why Dave?" He said, "To beat the storm." Right? I checked the sky again, and there were still no clouds. Well, we headed for the harbor and pretty soon Dave was lowering his sails and we went the rest of the way propelled by his motor, and sure enough it started sprinkling as we entered the harbor! As we tied the last canvas around the folded sails, the skies opened up and dumped! Now, I was impressed - and dry, thanks to Dave hearing some static on the radio, knowing where that station transmitted from and sensing that rain was on the way. He saw no clouds, but he expected the rain.

    When I was a kid someone came up with a new idea for entertainment - not making hieroglyphics, no - it was called three day movies! If you're old enough to remember this, I hope you're enjoying your senior citizen discounts, you'd go to the theater and they'd hand you these glasses that looked like cardboard sunglasses and you'd settle in to watch the movie, but not for long - especially if it was a monster movie. You see, the monster would start walking towards the screen and then right out of the screen and practically into your face! Of course, if you took those glasses off it was just a flat old screen again and a flat old monster. But when you had those glasses on, you saw things that you otherwise would miss!

      I think children go to secret seminars on how to manipulate parents. They are so good - so early - especially at bedtime. See the object is to squeeze out a few more minutes before having to go to sleep - right? Let's see, there's water - hmm - and then there's getting rid of the water, and, then there's praying some more, let's pray some more (who could be against that?) - ah, there's a sudden interest in talking about things, they are suddenly communicators, and then of course, the ever popular monsters in my closet. Actually, a lot of these things are based on real needs and real feelings. I mean a lot of children really believe there's a monster in their closet - and that the monster will come out and get them as soon as there's not a Mommy or Daddy in the room. I am sure glad we're all grown up now and we don't have to be afraid of a monster in the dark anymore. Well, except for one.

        Oklahoma City. We will never be able to hear those words again without thinking of the carnage of April 19, 1995 - the day a terrorist bomb destroyed the Federal Building and 168 people who were in it. That day in Oklahoma City displayed the very worst in people - and the very best. That awful moment, pulled that community together in a way that it may never have been united before. I mean, all kinds of people threw themselves into the rescue effort - doctors, and nurses, and police, and firefighters, and everyday heroes, counselors, ministers, food suppliers. And someone wisely pointed out that suddenly white didn't matter, black didn't matter, Methodists didn't matter, Baptists didn't matter, old, young. There was one compelling need that had incredible power to erase all the categories.

          Okay, this is a word association test! Fruit salad. What did you think of? Well, it depends whether or not you've been in the military. You see, if you haven't been in the military, you probably thought of some little pieces of apple, or melon, in a bowl together - but if you've been in the military you may have found something far less edible than that. We just called a Desert Storm veteran and I did that with him. I said, "What do you think of when I say "fruit salad"? He said, "Oh, ribbons and medals." That's right! To the military it's all those medals - that kind of "fruit salad" matters a lot to people in the military. They are the record that all the world can see in your achievements, in your service to your country. When one of America's top military leaders committed suicide, it was believed that a controversy over his medals may have contributed to that tragedy. He was wearing a medal that was only supposed to be worn by those who have been in direct combat contact. His wartime service on a ship didn't qualify according to his critics. When you've served your country, your service awards are serious business. There are some soon-to-be-issued awards that will go to some very surprising, and surprised people.

            Not all the drama of the Olympics takes place during the Olympics. Some of it unfolds in the weeks and months leading up to the games, like the torch, for example.

            In the spirit of the ancient Olympics in Greece, the Olympic torch is carried by runners over thousands of miles until it's finally carried into the opening ceremonies to light the official torch of the Olympic Games. In the case of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, a journey of 15,280 miles, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, represents quite a torch run. Obviously one person doesn't do it all, I mean, not even I am in that good a shape! Now, every Olympic year there are many runners who each carry the torch for a fraction of the journey and then they hand it off to the next runner. In the case of the Atlanta Games, Coca Cola selected 2,500 of the 10,000 torch bearers that were needed. They accepted nominations from anyone that you might know who you thought was "worthy to carry the torch."

              You can't just study all the time when you're in college, you need a little diversion, right? For me it was that little social action group I put together called The Vigilantes. Now, our social action consisted of very strategic maneuvers - otherwise known as practical jokes. One of them turned out to be very impractical, actually. One well known senior had just gotten engaged and we felt he was especially deserving a special engagement, ahh, commemoration, shall we say. He was the advisor in the dorm of about forty freshman and we were seniors, hey, no problem getting in, putting our friend through a few engagement rituals, and leaving, right? That's what we thought. There were eight of us in our little war party and no sooner had we all gotten in the door of the dorm than we were attacked by 40 out-of-control freshmen. Someone had leaked our raid and our friend had all the freshmen ready to cream us! It wasn't very pretty. We slithered back to our dorms, sulked, humiliated, by freshmen no less! But I couldn't leave it there, of course, I went door to door in our dorm recruiting a small army in the name of "upper class honor." Pretty soon we had about 60 rowdy guys packed into a dorm lounge preparing for a return raid, those freshmen saw us coming in, it was the same eight guys, and they started coming at us, but the upper class men just kept coming. The freshmen learned their humility lesson that night, and our friend finally had his engagement appropriately celebrated. Oh, we had suffered a serious setback, but we responded aggressively!

                The Seattle Mariners were in the middle of a baseball game when it hit, an earthquake. The sportscaster in Seattle King Dome said, "Man, everything is shaking here." Well, the newscast showed the reaction of Seattle star Ken Griffey, Jr.. Even though he is one of baseballs premier players, he suddenly did not have baseball on his mind. He ran over to a spot on the field where he could see his family in the stands - it wasn't baseball he was thinking of all of a sudden. He was motioning to his family to get out of that stadium, now!, and to start driving home. It reminded me of that night when an earthquake hit that third game of the 1989 World Series in San Francisco, and the remark the San Francisco catcher made. Even in the midst of a World Series dream coming true, speaking of the quake he simply said, "Sure does change your priorities, doesn't it?"

                  We had three kids. They all were in the junior high band at different times over a seven year period of time so I got to go to seven straight years of Junior High Band concerts. Now, I enjoyed watching our kids develop musically, but I cannot say that it was a memorable music experience. Now fortunately they stuck to pieces that were at their level. But suppose they had attempted Beethoven - okay, imagine you don't know much about Beethoven, I tell you, "Beethoven was a musical genius. Now why don't you come to the Junior High Band concert with me, they're playing a Beethoven symphony. I know you're going to be impressed with Beethoven's ability." Okay it's after the concert and I go, "Oh, what did you think of Beethoven?" You go, "I am not impressed." And tell you, "I know there were a lot of squeaks and squawks and instruments missing but please, please don't judge Beethoven based on the way they play His music! He is a genius, they just don't play His music very well."

                    One of the exciting episodes of my life in the past few years was working on the Billy Graham crusade at the Meadowlands, in Northern New Jersey. Man, it was well organized. One thing that was especially well organized was security. You've got thousands of people coming and going, so security, of course, had to be very well thought through. Now, it was my privilege to be the chairman of that crusade but I'll tell you, if I was stopped, I still had to have my proper badge on! It didn't matter what your title was because if you didn't wear your badge, you weren't going any further, you weren't even going in that night!

                                  

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