Once a year the charity for the crippled old ARVN vets still suffering in Viet Nam holds a dinner concert and fundraiser. (www.thevhf.org ) It was scheduled for this past evening and the MC and singers flew in from California on Friday for it. But then came the hurricane, which was supposed to mostly miss Raleigh..... but that forecast was just a bit off, and we got 9 inches of rain, very high winds, all kinds of flooding, trees down across roads, power outages all over. Including the rental hall for the party. And the official recommendations from the authorities were for people to stay home until it blew over.
As I got ready to go in the early evening, my wife asked me why I would go, when it should be cancelled and there was no power at the hall. I told her that 1- the organizers had gotten a 10KW generator to run power as needed, and 2- these are people who went to sea in small leaky boats at great risk, or walked across Cambodia to get to camps in Thailand, or survived "re-education", and spent years in refugee camps to get here with nothing to start all over again in a strange new country. There was no way that rain and slick roads would mean anything worth stopping for to them!
And sure enough, we had 90% attendance, even with people who had to drive long distances to get there. They had bought dozens of candles to light every table, the caterer (also Vietnamese) had brought sterno warming pans for all the hot food, ice for the drinks, etc. The power wasn't level enough in voltage for the sound equipment, but they brought in a piano and someone to play it for music, and the singers worked through all that.
Starting first, with the star male singer, a superb baritone, singing the Star Spangled Banner a cappella. And there was NO ONE in this crowd sitting down, everyone was standing, hand over heart, and many sang along. In the flickering candlelight of the tables with the wind and rain drumming outside, it was something special. And OK, call me a sentimental, silly, old American.... but my eyes..... my eyes let me down, they spilled water down my cheeks as I tried to sing along through a throat tightened with emotion. And then they sang the old national anthem of South Viet Nam, and the whole crowd sang with strength and clarity. It was all something to experience.
After which the show went on and everyone had a great, great time. I was very happy and proud to be there.
As to the assorted professional athletes with their gametime protests, my wish is for the team owners to say, simply, "you are paid millions to be here to entertain, this stadium is your workplace when the game is on, and you can do all your Freedom of Speech protesting ON YOUR OWN TIME, not here, so either stand for the anthem or stay in the locker room and figure out if you want to work here or not". We all have the right to protest, but not at the place of work where we are collecting money to be there and have responsibilities to those for whom we work. This is not a complicated or difficult concept to grasp.