The closing ceremonies to the London Olympics showcased British musical talent a long way from what we senior American citizens appreciate or understand. But, for me, the highlight of the closing ceremony was the random parade of athletes coming in to the stadium, their faces literally shining with joy over the incredible experiences that would remain with them every day for the rest of their lives.
For seventeen days, our spirits were lifted with incredible athletic performances of great courage, determination, uncommon talent, and perseverance. Many athletes trained for years, and some, nearly all of their lives, for a few moments or even seconds on the world stage with a chance for gaining Olympic immortality. Being soft hearted, I some times wept for a loser, like the American woman runner who, for the second Olympics, tripped and fell and could not finish the race. Eight years of dreams dashed in incredible emotional tears and pain in just a flash of a second. Olympians performed who had overcome incredible surgeries and physical rehabilitation, who ran on a broken leg, who ran on prosthetic legs, who gave up everything for years but the daily trips to the pool, to the track, to the gym floor, to the beach sand, all for the quest for Olympic immortality. Winning is always incredible, but you could watch many Olympians who did not ever get to the podium, and the joy on their faces, reflecting the honor of just being at the Olympics, was indelible and inspiring.
For seventeen days, athletes from cultures and countries all over the world who spoke the common language of athletic excellence and pride in being at the Olympics competed in often grueling competitions. And we watched the flashes of incredible athletic excellence as we marvelled at how competitors, both young and old, could ever achieve such magnificent feats,and who made watching the games all the more special and memorable. Many embraced one another after a meet or a race, showing enormous respect and appreciation for others who had entered the exclusive fraternity or sorority of brothers and sisters who for one shining moment lit up the world stage and entered the annals of Olympic immortality. Decades-old records were shattered. Youngsters collected treasure troves of gold and silver and bronze medals, or just simply reflected the joy of the incredible honor they had experienced by just being at the Olympics and doing their best, an opportunity open only to a tiny handful of the world's most gifted athletes.
So to the City of London and the country of England, to the Olympic organization, and to the wonderful participants in these magnificent games, we all bid farewell as we extend our gratitude for brightening our lives with your exemplary courage and performances. The flames of the Olympic cauldron may have gone dark, but our images of what each of you have accomplished will brighten our lives forever. Thank you.