His selection couldn’t be more spot on.
What a difference eight years can make. Eight years ago, Lopez Lomong was a man without a country, without his family, and without much of a future at that time.
Yet today the 1,500 meter runner was selected to the prestigious role of carrying the U.S. flat the Opening Ceremonies on Friday in front of a packed house at the National Stadium.
His life's experiences are every bit harrowing and inspiration.
Lomong is a “Lost Boy” of Sudan, a group of youth forced from their homes and traveled sometimes hundreds of miles through unimaginable conditions and survived against all odds. Thousands died along the way.
While praying at church Lomong was kidnapped at the point of a gun at age 6, by militiamen trying to turn children into boy soliders. As a prisoner, he watched other boys die of dysentery and starvation. With the help of friends, he escaped confinement and walked for days to a refugee camp in Kenya.
He then spent ten years in that refugee camp. In 2001, he was brought to America as part of a program to relocate lost children from war-torn Sudan.
It would be 15 years later before Lomong would learn that his family was alive. When he was presumed dead, the villagers of his home in southeastern Sudan held a ceremonial burial, putting objects in a grave to symbolize Lomong's presence. Upon his return there in December, Lomong took part in another ceremony to disinter the symbols, effectively bringing him back to life.
I couldn’t be more proud at this selection. The 1,500-meter runner is the embodiment of what this country is about. Only in America could this 'Lost Boys" story have lived out to this dream scenario.
This may all sound cheesy but some where there is someone in the worst of possible situations that will hear Lomong’s story and they will find an extra gear to rise out of their seemingly impossible situation.
This person may hear how Lomong in 2000, walked five miles and paid five shilling to watch the Olympics on a fuzzy black and white television only to become inspired by Michael Johnson’s gold medal 400-meter performance.
That’s what the Olympic Games is all about.
By Jay Hicks.