The Olympic flame was extinguished Feb. 24, but for thousands in Utah the "fire within" will never dim.
In closing ceremonies at Rice-Eccles Stadium, amidst a fanfare of fireworks, music and dancing, Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, told the "people of America, Utah and Salt Lake City, you have given the world superb Games. You have reassured us that people from all countries can live peacefully together. Thank you, thank you."
Mr. Rogge also praised Olympic volunteers, most of whom were LDS. "You are, with the athletes, also the champions of these Games. Your generosity and profound kindness have warmed our hearts. You were marvelous."
During the celebration, which included recordings of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing at opening ceremonies Feb. 8, Mr. Rogge presented the Olympic Order in Gold to Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, and Fraser Bullock, chief operating officer for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. The order was awarded for the "outstanding organization of the 19th Olympic Winter Games."
Attending the ceremonies on this chilly winter night was U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. Performing the Olympic hymn as the Olympic flag was lowered and solemnly carried from Olympic Stadium was Laura Garff-Lewis, a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir who also performs with the Utah Opera. (See article about Brother Romney in the Jan. 26, 2002, issue.)
In his brief remarks, Brother Romney greeted the cheering crowd by declaring, "We did it!"
"Of course, a lot of people deserve credit. For me, chief among them are the volunteers, the best ever. . . . Something very magical happened here. You Olympians came here representing 78 different countries, but today you go home heroes of the entire world. You may have been here to pursue your dream, but you also brought the Olympic spirit to us. . . . Win or not, you each reach for your dream, and we dreamed with you. There's another dream that is shared by all, a dream that one day our children will live in peace. For 17 days, we lived that dream. Olympians, we cheered all of you, but not just our own. We saw in you the universal greatness of the human family."