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Article published February 20, 2014
R. Dean Hillegas Meyersdale, Somerset County, c/o Scott Hellegas Butler
As I watched the Parade of Nations that opened the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, many thoughts raced through my mind. The cameras focused on the happy, smiling faces of the best athletes from around the world. One country after another proudly presented their elite to the hundreds of millions watching around the globe. Dreams alone have not brought these men and women to their destination; hard work, determination and professional supervision have prepared them to represent themselves and their countries at this renowned event. I watched as each individual stood there, knowing they may have the coveted opportunity to reach the ceremonial awards stage, feel a precious medal draped around their neck, and have their national anthem played for all the world to hear. As I watch these athletes display their God-given skills, I also observe not only the respect that each of athlete has for their event, but also for one another. Despite various cultural and linguistic barriers, there is an incredible camaraderie evident among these gifted men and women. It’s easy to get the feeling that this camaraderie reflects the countries and governments from which they come. Unfortunately, all too often this is not reality. The question then becomes: Why can’t and why won’t government officials at every level, in every country, including United States of America, apply the Olympic effect — a method that encourages hard work, determination, professionalism and above all mutual respect for one another. Are those characteristics not some of the most integral aspects of what our country was founded upon? It seemed to work in the past; perhaps, it might work again.