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I was thinking about that keynote presentation we did for the Florida Prosperity Partnerships' Annual Conference years ago, and how much fun it was to tailor our presentation to the conference theme, The Wizard of Oz.


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What made you think of that? I know they play all the old classics over the holidays. Was the movie on last weekend?


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No, I was wearing the UGG slippers you got me (I love them!) and putting away the new sneakers you just gave me. It reminded me how with you it's always about the shoes. That got me thinking about how you used Dorothy's ruby slippers, and your stiletto heels, to make a point (no pun intended).


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That although we were the keynote speakers, we were not the experts? I merely pointed out the obvious – that the audience was the "boots on the ground".


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Yes, exactly. At the event, it was all the community organizations helping people with financial stability. But now, with everything going on due to the pandemic, "boots on the ground" applies to so many people … healthcare workers, first-responders, community organizations, teachers, parents, the list goes on-and-on.

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Make sure to include scientists and businesses. But, what is your point?


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We all get so wrapped up in our day-to-day life, and the changes that we're having to make, that we sometimes forget there are so many people working to help us all. Including many who are behind-the-scenes, so never are even noticed.


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"We are all in this together" is not just a slogan.


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I know. Unfortunately, the more people say it, the more it just becomes white noise. At that presentation, I could see the difference it made when you acknowledged they were the "boots on the ground". It wasn't that they wanted to be thanked, although we did that, too. They just really appreciated not being taken for granted.


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I call it as I see it.


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Well, although I always make a point to thank the workers at the grocery store, I'm going to make more of an effort to remember to thank all people who are making a difference for being the "boots on the ground". It's the least I can do. Actually, it's the least we can all do.


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Maybe it would be easier to remember if you just remembered … "It is all about the shoes."

We had barely introduced ourselves when the newspaper editor held up our book, gesturing to our "two-faced" logo on the front cover and said something along the lines of …

Ok, off the record, admit it, you embellished the characters in the book to be more entertaining.

When we finished laughing, we explained …

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Certain days are etched in your memory. All earning a place based on the significance of the event – some good, others bad. I will never forget 9/11. I was out of town on a business trip and when I called my crew chief that morning to talk about the transport of my race car, he asked if I had been watching the news. Obviously, I had not. And, as I turned on the television, I saw the plane crash into the second tower.

I am not one to be glued to the television – nor am I one to be overwhelmed by emotions. But I could not help watching the news, almost non-stop. Looking back, I think it was because I was trying to make sense out of what I was seeing. Watching with horror and heavy heart as the day unfolded, looking for an explanation.

There are many images that still stand out in my memory. Interestingly, the most vivid ones are the ones that reflect how we, as Americas, stood together as a people. The first-responders rushing in while people covered in dust and debris wandered shell-shocked. Poignant pictures of President Bush at Ground Zero. Firefighters and EMTs from around the country working together.

The American people stepped up to help in whatever way they could. Whether it was donating blood or raising money for the victims and rescue workers. Or, simply prayer. People attended impromptu candlelight vigils and participated in moments of silence. We demonstrated our patriotism and belief in the ideals of our country. Of Democracy. People flew the American flag at their homes and even on their car antennas, while others pinned it to their clothing. Not to mention all the t-shirts.

People gathered together. Sometimes to pay tribute to the dead. Sometimes to honor all the first responders. Sometimes to share their grief with others. And, sometimes because they just did not want to be alone. I was stranded out of town as all flights were grounded but did not feel alone. And, although all of us felt differently in what specifically to do in response to the attacks, we seemed to agree that standing together – a sense of unity – provided hope in this horrible time.


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New Year's Eve seems like the perfect time to stroll down memory lane, although I'm guessing your memories are much more interesting than mine.


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"Interesting" is a subjective word. Regardless, are you talking about memories in general? Or, New Year's Eve celebrations?


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Actually, it was just a passing comment. But since you've always seemed to make a bigger deal out of New Year's Eve than I have, are there any years that really stand out?


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Truth is the most memorable ones are the ones spent with celebrating with closest friends versus crowds. In fact, I think I have spent more than half of my New Year's Eves with John and Diana. Although, I will never forget bringing in 2000.
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