Remembering Salt Lake 2002 during the opening ceremony in Beijing
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Tonight we’ll watch the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and it feels like yesterday . . . just yesterday when we stood out in the freezing cold at Rice Eccles Stadium waiting for the magic to begin. But it was twenty years ago. My sons weren’t even born yet, and one is driving now.
Opening ceremony, open wounds
Twenty years ago, just months after we suffered the unspeakable loss of September 11th, President Bush
came to our home, stood next to Mitt Romney and then-IOC President Jacques Rogge, and listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the national anthem during the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake 2002 games.
Whether we were in the stadium or watching at home, none of us will forget the way we felt when the torn flag that flew over the Pentagon was carried into the stadium and saluted.
We put our hands on our hearts, and some of us cried.
The magic of Salt Lake 2002
Of course, for so many of us, the magic began long before the opening ceremony. The magic began when we learned how to volunteer. It began when we trained to play our respective roles, or when we received the jackets that we treasure to this day.
In truth, the excitement had been building ever since Juan Antonio Samaranch said, “The city . . . of Salt Lake City.”
I remember driving to Moab with my radio partner Grant Nielsen to watch the torch cross into the state of Utah at Delicate Arch.
Days before the opening ceremony, the torch made its way into Salt Lake City at a breathtaking ceremony at the City-County Building. It was a bitterly cold night. I remember Grant and I got so cold, we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to talk without our teeth chattering, but then Mitt Romney came up to us and told us he had faith in us.
After that, we went on stage, introduced Gladys Knight, and waited for John Stockton to run in with the torch.
As I watch the opening ceremony tonight with my husband by my side, as he was twenty years ago, I will feel as grateful for this city I call home, as filled with awe at the courage and strength of the athletes, and as hopeful for the human family as I have ever felt. I have no need for politics tonight, and maybe less need for it in general. The Olympics have much to teach us, and that may be one of its lessons.