No, I'm not bitter. What do I care if the rest of the country (the rest of the world, for all I know) sees the Olympics live, but we on the west coast of the United States see the games and ceremonies three hours late? It's all taking place just one time zone away, but we're here standing on the outside watching it all through the frosty window. But I'm not bitter. I'll just think of it as a slightly exaggerated satellite delay, like when the correspondents in Afghanistan answer the news anchor's questions from Washington.
What a shiver went through me, though, when I heard the first voice on NBC's coverage tonight. I recognized Jim McKay right away, because to me, he is the voice of the Olympics. I'll never forget watching the Munich games in 1972, when he became our window on terrorism in a time and place we never expected it. How appropriate that he would return for these games, in America this year.
The Opening Ceremony is a combination of ritual and spectacle, history and hope. The movement focuses the eyes of the world on the possibilities that exist to come together in peace. It unites athletes of different eras and all nations, passing the torch on to the next generation. Dreams and miracles are the theme, and this year it seems like a miracle just to pull it off.
So I watched, three hours late, trying to forget that most people had already seen it, and that the little boy in the red outfit was safe in his bed by the time we got our first look at him. The parade of nations was the usual exuberant celebration of (mostly) young athletes' just having made it to the Olympics. Of all the colorful elements in the program, I think I'm most likely to remember the giant animal puppets, loping along lighter than air.
The highlight of the night was the lighting of the flame by members of the 1980 U.S. hockey team, and seeing it blaze upward toward the cauldron and then burst into full brilliance. I already had chills by that time, but that was an electric moment. Tomorrow the competition begins, and there will be more exciting moments, some of them totally unexpected. People we've never heard of will do things we can't imagine, and we'll be pulling for them as if they were our old school chums or our long lost cousins. That's what makes this event special.