Hometown heroes: Priceless celebrations from the heart | Nandell Palmer

I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from readers regarding the “I Celebrate You” series. Particularly, I was very happy to hear from Gerry, who responded online and also spoke to me face to face. These are her words:

“I hadn't thought about this in years until reading Mr. Palmer's article. When I graduated from college in 1976, I bought for my parents a certificate that announced their new degree of PDT — Putting Daughter Through! They were happy to frame that certificate and hang it on the wall. Neither of my parents had attended college, but they made sure that my older brother and I did. In fact, eventually, my brother and I both received graduate degrees.”

Gerry joked that there are variations on “virtual” degrees to loved ones: Ph.T (Putting Husband Through); Ps.T (Putting Son Through); and the list goes on.

The stories are so heartwarming. And just as I started to feel as though they couldn’t get better, another one would blow through with lightning speed and leave me speechless.

I honestly don’t feel as though people set out to be ungrateful toward loved ones who did so much for them. It is just human nature for men and women to take for granted the people and places closest to them.

Living in New York City for 15 years, I cannot tell you the many born-and-bred New Yorkers who had never visited the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. Yet many of those same people can tell you about their travels to faraway lands.

It’s like they’re saying the landmarks will always be there. Alas, we see how that leaning is not always true. Just think about the World Trade Center for a minute. How many people had put off going there for years, but became rueful because precious time ran out?

My middle son came home the other evening grinning from ear to ear: He became the MVP for his varsity football team. One of the players’ fathers dropped him home after their last game for the season, and he reported with wide-eyed glee:

“Dad, you know what, while driving home, Mr. Williams told me that if I put out the same amount of effort in my studies as I put out on the field, I could excel above and beyond.”

His mom and I came out in unison, “Haven’t we been saying the same thing to you for years?” He said yes, but that it was different when he heard it from somebody else. Well, I want to say a public thank you via this column, Mr. Williams, for doing what we were not able to do.

We would wear garbage-ready outfits around the house among family members, but we would not be caught dead wearing those things in front of our friends or even strangers. Why is it so?

I have always wondered why the Julia Robertses and Denzel Washingtons of the world fight back tears whenever they would receive awards from their hometown or former high school, even though they have bagged the coveted Oscar or Grammy. It is quite profound when your own hometown people can accept you and truly say, “We celebrate you for who you are.”

Your hometown crowd is the hardest to please. Many times you’ll have to leave town, make a name for yourself, then come back home before you can be honored like Fantasia and Clay Aiken of "American Idol" fame. That is the way of the world.

Federal Way residents have nominated their candidates, and I have chosen the 20 that will be celebrated this Sunday, Nov. 15. We are showing the world that our people don’t have to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before they can be celebrated because in our eyes, they are the stars personified!

I Celebrate You

Write A Blessing Media will present “I Celebrate You” at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road. The event is free and open to the public. Food, motivational speeches and entertainment will be available, including the Federal Way Harmony Kings. The event is a way for the community to say thank you to its people for being positive role models, dedicated parents, wonderful spouses, caring teachers, selfless doctors and benevolent human beings.

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