In a few days, I will celebrate--in my heart--the first anniversary of the Games of the XXIII Olympiad. It seems like only yesterday that International Olympics Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch handed the Olympic Flag to Mayor Tom Bradley.
Those were wonderful days. The Games brought the people of this city together, perhaps for the very first time.
I lived the first 30 years of my life in New York, and the last 15 in Los Angeles. But in my heart, I was still a New Yorker. Los Angeles was to me, a fragmented city, built on a Hollywood foundation of make-believe; a place to visit, but a city without a song. And I was convinced, the reason we did not have a good song was because we really didn't believe in our city. We didn't LOVE our city. Even the Dodgers came from Brooklyn.
But that began to change about two or three weeks before the Opening Ceremonies. The people changed--they became warm and friendly; they cried as the men and women carrying the Torch passed by, flanked on all sides by flashing lights, cheers and the waving of American flags. We had the "Olympic Spirit"--an electrifying spirit that radiated throughout the world. Los Angeles was the nucleus of the world, and the nucleus was at peace.
And I began to change. I was proud of our city. When I returned to New York for a visit, I had a need--something I hadn't experienced in the last 15 years. I wanted to go home--to Los Angeles.
All of us realize how important the Games are for world harmony and peace. For one brief shining moment of time, we were--Camelot.
Let's rekindle the flame that Rafer Johnson lit--the flame that warmed our hearts; our hearts, all the peoples of this world--the flame of peace. Let us again display the flags of all nations on our streets, including those that did not come to Los Angeles last year--they are still hanging proudly on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Those small banners could be an effective weapon against war. Let's hang them by the thousands all over Los Angeles. Let's relive one of mankind's greatest hours--all of us, including the visitors that stayed away last year.
I believe Mayor Bradley, the man most responsible for bringing the Games to Los Angeles, should relight the Torch of Peace on July 28 in celebration of the first anniversary. Let us all rejoice in the Olympic Spirit and bring that spirit back--to the world.
JULIAN R. KARELITZ