Editorial: Olympic rewind and remind

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Our View

With an ailing economy, ugly political fighting and a contentious presidential campaign in the backdrop at home, U.S. athletes are competing in London in the interest of representing their once proud — and could still be again — nation. No matter how divided our country may be, Americans can’t help but swell with pride by seeing our athletes stand at the podium with gold around their necks and the National Anthem playing for all to hear.

Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

Alisa Corey

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Patt McCaffrey

— Community representative

• Jerry Martin

— Newspaper representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

The year was 1980, and national pride in the U.S. was swooning by the time the XIII Winter Olympics began in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The economy, hindered by the oil crisis, had dipped into recession.

The hostages were being held in Iran.

The Cold War was bitter.

Our country, to a certain extent, was fractured, and optimism for the future was waning if not wholly extinct.

On Feb. 22, a young U.S. Olympic hockey team gave the country a reason to believe.

The U.S. players, kids really, were heavy underdogs in the Olympic semifinals, facing a seasoned and dominant Russian team made up mostly of professionals.

The kids didn’t blink.

The 4-3 U.S. victory, forever known as the “Miracle on Ice,” propelled the team to a gold medal finish. The team’s performance bridged gaps and transcended differences: pride was born anew for Americans.

The parallels between 1980 and today stood out to the editorial board at its Monday meeting.

Perhaps at no point, save for the Civil War, has America been so fractured and divided as it is today.

Our domestic affairs are in shambles, and our foreign enemies are numerous and lurking in shadows.

Our politics, policies and politicians are contentious, beyond civility or reason, beyond anything the Founders could have imagined.

Our citizenry, the sturdy backbone of our nation, is splintered, divided by labels rather than united by country.

This landscape, mind you, also includes one of the worst and most prolonged economic downturns in U.S. history.

Hope, it seems, is a flowery promise of political campaigns. When it comes to delivery, however, the sense of better days ahead is in short supply.

It’s much too early to know, and impossible to predict, whether the Summer Olympics in London will deliver anything to rally U.S. pride like the “Miracle on Ice” did 32 years ago.

But, maybe something so dramatic isn’t what’s needed.

Maybe it’s enough for Americans to watch the games, and feel pride return when seeing our U.S. athletes, most of them unpaid amateurs, compete for their country and capture a medal.

The editorial board, for one, finds it impossible to feel anything but pride when watching one of our athletes stand on the podium with a gold medal draped around his or her neck as the National Anthem plays loud and vibrantly in the background.

These moments, of which there have been and will be many throughout the games, are an example that, despite things being hard now, despite facing obstacles and odds seemingly stacked against us, America can still compete.

America can, and will, rise above.

We could all stand to learn from our athletes competing in London.

Their achievements are a testament to what America has historically known, but seemingly forgotten as of late — difficulties don’t outdo determination.

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