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In the last hours before the IOC decision

October 2, 2009

Late last night (or early this morning in Copenhagen) President Obama addressed the IOC in the final bid to bring the Chicago 2016 Olympics here to Chicago. He spoke passionately about Chicago, opting to appeal to the committee based on our spirit not just our technical or financial merit. His words spoke directly to the heart of how I see this city.

And then I came to Chicago, and on those Chicago streets I have worked along side men and women who are black and white, latino and asian, people of every class, and nationality, and religion. I came to discover that Chicago is that most American of American cities, but one where citizens from more than 130 nations inhabit a rich tapestry of distinctive neighborhoods. Each one of those neighborhoods from Greektown to the Ukrainian Village, from Devon, to Pilsen, to Washington Park has its own unique character, its own unique history, its songs, its language, but each is also part of our city. One city. A city where I finally found a home. Chicago is a place where we strive to celebrate what makes us different just as we celebrate what we have in common.

Leading up to the final bids today I spent last evening volunteering for the International Visitors Center of Chicago at their Olympic Dreams event held at the National Hellenic Museum in Greektown. It was attended, as all their events are, by a large sampling of people from all over the world; those who are now Chicago residents and those who are visiting. They were also joined by athletes both local and Olympian, and a large group of news outlets.

Everyone was looking forward to today’s decision. Everyone was hopeful.

But despite the final outcome of the decision (and that is also why I write this before the vote) it is that spirit, that community, that is truly inspiring. Instead of pointing out the difficulties and all the errors that could be made, isn’t it the very essence of the American spirit to ask whether there is anything we can’t accomplish when we put our minds to it and work together?

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