Opinion | Biff America: Octaves of optimism
That high school girl gave me goose bumps. As soon as she finished, I thought to myself, ‘I needed that.’
I attended a recent scholarship awards night at a local high school. On stage there had to be 50 high school seniors of all races, creeds, and genders waiting to receive tuition support from various towns, groups and nonprofits.
The stage was packed with a bunch of young people about to begin the next phase of their lives where all things are possible. In the audience were parents who could bask in the glow of their work, sacrifice, love and guidance.
Before I go on, I want to say that I believe with total conviction, that school teachers and staff have the most important job in the nation and should be paid accordingly.
By being on the local grants committee and reading the applications, I was privy to the amazing accomplishments as well as the crazy challenges that some of these kids have overcome. That night was a perfect antidote for some of the cynicism people like me can acquire in these divisive times.
Early in the evening the lights dimmed and a color guard of first responders approached carrying the Colorado and American flags. A young gal stepped to center stage, and without accompaniment, began to sing our national anthem.
There was over a half million dollars to be given away by dozens of presenters. I did not have a dog in that hunt as I have no children, only was acquainted with a couple of those on stage and I was giving away other people’s money. I attended out of obligation and with my hummingbird attention span, I feared for a long evening.
But when that gal, the same age as some of my skis, began to sing, “Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light,” chills went down my spine.
Accomplished performers have been embarrassed by the wide range required of that song. I’m guessing some of her friends and family were there that night and, like me, they were nervous as she approached what for many is the death knoll of anthem singers — “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.”
I am lacking in musical genetics; my mother had six children using the rhythm method, but anyone with hearing can tell that song was not designed to be sung by your average person.
That said this gal ‘killed it’ (sung it flawlessly).
Again, I needed that. Actually I think it is safe to say, we all need nights like that.
If you watch the news, read the editorials, listen to politicians speak or are not in a coma, you know that the country is going through some tough times. Our nation is more partisan, close minded and angry then ever in my memory.
But truth is, politically, little has changed. There have always been dissenting opinions in this nation; but now there seems to be a perceived entitlement to be jerks to each other.
Now granted, I don’t care for our current POTUS and his administration and I am not crazy about many (on both sides) in our Congress. By the same token, many felt the same way about the last administration and the one before that. Certainly some on my side might say this is the worst administration in our lifetime and others would disagree. That is all part and parcel of democracy and it gives us ample opportunity to “vote the bums out” when the majority feels as we do.
At the same time, I’m disgusted with the left and right (media and civilians included) resorting to negativity, hyperbole and insults to make a point. I don’t think there are many who would argue that this discord is at all healthy for our nation nor productive in advancing our respective causes.
For old farts like me it will be harder to change. But I would like to think some of those on that stage will, sooner rather than later, look at our generation, the political dysfunction and current acrimony and think, “We can do better.”
If what I witnessed that night in my community is indicative of what is going on across the country; they can and they will do better. They have to.
Yes, like some words of that original poem written by Francis Scott Key, there are ideals that are outdated and no longer endorsed or sung, “No refuge can save the hireling or the slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” But to me that suggests our nation wasn’t/isn’t perfect but evolving with time.
When that talented young gal finished with, “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave,” I relaxed knowing that she got through that difficult finish perfectly and felt encouraged that, with the likes of her and those on that stage, we are leaving this world in good hands. So, knowing that, I guess I’ll go skiing.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or Shop.HolPublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul
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