Friday, August 3, 2012

Still a place where dreams come true

I realize this is a minority opinion, but I much prefer the Winter Olympics to the summer version. I find downhill skiing, speedskating, the hockey tournament and bobsledding all more exciting than gymnastics, swimming or basketball. And come on, badminton? Really?

But regardless of my preferences, I enjoyed a nice moment last night after Gabby Douglas won the women's all-around gymnastics gold medal and raced to embrace her coach, Liang Chow.

And while I realize it's a bit of a cliche, in that moment I was reminded again that America is still the great melting pot, and still a place where there are no limits on your dreams.

In that picture we have a young lady from Virginia, who found the courage at age 14 to leave her family and move halfway across the continent to - of all places - West Des Moines, Iowa, to pursue her dream of becoming an Olympian.

And waiting for her in Iowa was Liang Chow, a Chinese-born coach who competed for his native country for many years before accepting a scholarship to the University of Iowa so he could learn English and coach gymnastics. He became an American citizen in 2002.

Both of them pursuing dreams, both of them finding a place in America's heartland and, last night, both working together to produce another American gold medal.

It's a beautiful picture, and it makes me angry all over again that the political left works so hard to drive racial and class wedges between us. Look at it again: You'd never confuse that with a photo from the Russian or Chinese or Swedish teams. It's a purely American moment.

Someone once wrote - and I think I first heard Ronald Reagan say it - that you can go live in France, but it doesn't make you French, and you can go live in Japan but you'll never be Japanese. But anyone from anywhere in the world can move to the United States and become an American.

It's a sweet and noble thought, and it was illustrated perfectly last night in London.


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