That was the message on pins people were wearing Sunday at Mount Pisgah Ski Center, at a rally for the Saranac Lake area's amazing number of athletes on the U.S. Olympic Team.
We couldn't get a pin ourselves. They seemed to have run out, along with the food -organizers didn't expect such a big turnout to Pisgah's Arctic Barbecue, an annual staple of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.
But even without having a pin in hand, we got the full impact of the message, which was simple and obvious but also striking. More than 300 neighbors were gathered happily in one place, their faces were glowing, and they were ready to cheer because they were "SO VERY proud."
Local residents wave signs and U.S. flags for a group photo, taken from a fire truck bucket above, at a rally for local Olympians Sunday at Mount Pisgah Ski center in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Pisgah, and its nordic ski companion Dewey Mountain across town, are humble, small-town recreation venues. But they are owned, literally, by the people of this community, and an amazing amount of activity happens there because local people make it happen,mostly through volunteerism.
The history of skiing in our part of the mountains goes back to the beginnings of the international skiing boom, and still, every winter day, kids and adults are out learning to ski, improving their skills and having all kinds of fun, both at better known venues like Whiteface and Mount Van Hoevenberg (also publicly owned and run) as well as Pisgah, Dewey and Big Tupper (which despite being privately owned is the most publicly run of all, since it was community volunteers who resurrected the whole operation from a decade of dormancy).
These venues are brilliant. Learn to ski at them, and you can take that ability in any direction you want. And we have a wealth of opportunities to take it further - from NYSEF to booming high-school nordic and alpine ski teams - all established for future generations' benefit by local people who have loved skiing so much and for so long.
The greatest of their dividends is that most people who grow up here learn winter skills and take joy in the cold season with their families and friends. These things enrich the rest of their lives.
But also, some of those skiers and skaters and sliders are so talented and so strong and so disciplined, they keep at it. This pursuit of sports that are little known nationally may seem vain or silly to some, but it is, if nothing else, an inspiring demonstration of how hard work, commitment and self-denial can be transcendent.
And now, we can point to an incredible number of homegrown athletes who have made it as far as the Olympics, the greatest of international competitions that still represents the ideal of world peace through sports. These local Olympians represent us before the world and make us swell with pride.