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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lopez Lomong, the Flag Bearer

Our chapter on citizenship has a photo essay on Lopez Lomong (born Lopepe Lomong)  South Sudanese refugee who became a champion runner and an American citizen. At The Los Angeles Times, Helene Elliott offers an update:
Millions of people watched runner Lopez Lomong carry the American flag and lead the United States delegation into the opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, marveling at the Sudanese refugee who survived unspeakable horrors before an American foster family took him in and gave him a new life.
Few people will see him repeat his flag-bearer role Friday in a different setting, but the occasion will be just as meaningful.
Lomong will be the standard bearer for Northern Arizona University's school of business at graduation ceremonies in Flagstaff, an honor bestowed by faculty members. After leaving school in 2007 to train for the Olympics, where he finished 12th in his semifinal in the 1,500 meters, he returned this semester to complete his degree in hotel and restaurant management. Again, he was chosen to lead his peers.
"It's an incredible thing," said Lomong, 26. "You can be in a refugee camp and not have anything, but you matter because this is a country that will give you an opportunity to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish in your life."
 At USA Today, Mike Lopresti writes:
He has brought two brothers to America and settled them in school in Virginia. He has started a foundation to help promote unity in South Sudan. He has spoken to whatever school his sponsor, Nike, would send him to, spreading the word to American students on what a good deal they have.
"I want to tell the kids that in this country you can go to sleep and you know you're going to wake up happy." Or at least not kidnapped by rebels.
And he has dreamed of London, particularly the medal he missed in 2008. "The goal is to run straight, then left turn as fast as anybody else, and win the gold medal for this great country.
"But first, graduation, and he's telling everybody it can be seen online. "There'll be lots of tears of joy," said the man who was once lost and has since been found. "I did it. I did it."