Wednesday, April 14:
Story by Eleanor Jones, photography
by Bob Garypie, Doug Armstrong, and Mike Lougee, audio broadcast by
Morning Program at the Warner Theatre
It's a beautiful day here in Washington, with sunny skies
and temperatures expected to reach the 70's.
Starting at 7:30 this morning, the delegates and their family
members began gathering at the Marriott and taking buses to
the Warner Theatre.
Built in 1922, the Warner Theatre is a lavish "movie
palace," with red velvet drapes, carpeting, and seats,
ornate decorative patterns in the plaster, all covered in
gold leaf. It's a magnificent setting for such an event.
|The scene inside the Theatre is very patriotic, and closely
resembles a national political convention, with tall placards
for each state, red, white, and blue balloons everywhere.
Dr. Joshua Miller (listen!)
called the event to order, discussing the need for organ donation
and the satisfaction he, as a transplant surgeon, finds when
getting a chance to see so many healthy transplant recipient
Citing the need for increased donation, Dr. Miller told how
the First Family Pledge organization has been busy encouraging
many notable figures and their families to sign the First
Family Pledge, with the result that so far, a whopping 245
members of Congress have signed the Pledge.
|The Parade of States (listen!)
began with Alaska, and the child delegates paraded into the
theatre to the rousing sounds of the United States Marine Band.
|Each delegate is wearing a special Congress t-shirt,
and they are color coded by geographical region. Camera flashes
are going off at the rate of several every minute.
The color guard (listen!)
was an impressive sight, especially when accompanied by the
music of the Marine Band (listen!)
and the singing of the national anthem (listen!).
The Invocation (listen!)
was delivered by the Reverend Nancy J. Webb, minister at a
church which President Clinton and his family frequently attend.
She led us in expressing thanks for renewed life through the
gift of organ and tissue donation, and asked blessing of this
|Reg and Maggie Green, (listen!)whose
story was told in the CBS movie "Nicholas' Gift,"
were introduced. Mrs. Green spoke beautifully of Nicholas' generosity,
inquisitiveness, and kindness. Although the Greens had never
discussed organ donation, they knew quickly that it was the
right thing to do. They were amazed at the good that Nicholas'
organs did: one boy grew four inches after the transplant; an
adult woman was then able to have a child of her own. The tragedy
of losing Nicholas was offset somewhat by knowing that they
had helped these seven people; seeing these hundreds of children
before her today, she said that she would now think of all the
delegates, too. Mr. Green told a moving story of how while one
family grieves, another family may get their child's health
back, and how important the work of the First Family Pledge
is in promoting organ donation.
Sharleen Hawkes (listen!)
delivered a welcome both in English and in Spanish. "How
many of you are in Washington for the first time?", asking
for a show of hands, she then spoke about courage and the
bravery of each one of the delegates. She told a story of
a skinny horse born with crooked legs, who no one thought
would ever be able to run. Ms. Hawkes then treated us to her
beautiful rendition of the inspirational song "I Believe
I Can Fly."
|Judy Woodruff (listen!)
of CNN welcomed the delegates, and commented that this Congress
is just as important as the "other one" here in town!
|Then the delegates (listen!)
themselves took the floor, with small voices explaining what
the Family Pledge is all about, and thanked all of the signers
for their support. Thunderous applause resulted from Mr. Green's
announcement that he received a telegram this morning saying
that members of Congress from all fifty states have signed the
|The roll call vote (listen!)
on the Resolution of Thanks proceeded with great spirit, with
each state's representative coming to a microphone to cast a
vote in favor of the resolution. The younger delegates were
particularly cute as some struggled with their words, while
the older delegates spoke with great conviction and confidence.
It was very moving to hear each child speak, knowing that each
one is alive today only because of organ donation.