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Is Anyone Else Missing Jerry Lewis And The Labor Day Telethon, And What It Meant For America?

September 2, 2013

On Sunday I noted that the Parade section that accompanies the local newspaper did not have a feature that was always tradition on the Labor Day weekend.  Over the years the front of the simple magazine insert would have a photo of the poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon along with the smiling face of one of our national treasures, Jerry Lewis.  But since the MDA forced out one of the biggest-hearted and dare I say one of the funniest men in this nation from the telethon there is a missing part to my Labor Day weekend.

I strongly suspect many feel the same around the country.  Not much is mentioned about it any more but if a poll were held I think my view would be demonstrated in the majority.  Most people admire Jerry Lewis, and applaud what he did for ‘his kids’.  God love him!

Over the many years of my life I watched several hours on Sunday night and then as the family planned for the cookout the set would be on and turned up to be heard throughout the house.  There was always a bustle of excitement when tote board numbers would change and Lewis would add his charm and wit to the higher cash totals that had been generated from his tireless work.  In my high school years I would call and donate ten dollars and urge my classmates to do the same.  Several years my plea was reported on the local coverage.

America was one big community filling the boots of firefighters with money, people heading to the local TV affiliates to add their cash to the canisters, but most important of all just picking up the phone and making  a pledge to help someone else.   While everyone was trying to make a difference for the cause, I always felt this was one of those days when we were all just a bit more united, a bit more of a family, a bit more of the type of people we really want to be as a nation.

Jerry Lewis was doing a telethon for a disease, but the effect had far larger and deeper ramifications.

Now that is all gone, and I am sure some executives somewhere feel they have made a tremendous positive difference.

Plenty of average Americans like myself feel quite the opposite.

In closing this post I want us to recall a 1976 telethon moment I suspect many recall where they were when they first saw it.    For myself it was at home in Hancock near 3;00 P.M as our home was getting ready for the family to gather for a cookout.  And then this happened.

Love you, Jerry!

One Comment
  1. Solly permalink
    September 5, 2013 8:24 PM

    Nope. Don’t miss his fag jokes either.

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