Braille Monitor December 1986
by Betty Pacelli
(Betty Pacelli is one of the leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut.)
Sixteen hundred fifty and more Federationists from every state in the nation sat quietly in a large, warm auditorium. Cool air slowly drifted down from the strategically placed vents, past heads and laps and finally to silent, sleepy dog guides sitting at their owner's feet. Had a leaf been floating down by chance, the ripple of air current would have been heard, the room was so silent. An air of sadness and loss mixed with elation and expectancy also prevailed in this auditorium. Today was the day--the long awaited, the dreaded, the nevercould-happen day--when the old stepped down to make way for the new. At least there were no surprises in store. We knew what to expect, and we were ready.
Once the vote was in and the president-elect was expected to officially take office at the end of the convention, we all settled back to business as usual. Then suddenly it was 5:00 p.m., Friday, July 5th, and the convention was over. He didn't say goodbye. He didn't make a speech. He just asked for forty-five seconds--forty-five seconds to leave the hall. And we gave them to him--one second at a time--out loud amid tears and cheers. It can't be the same without him, and it shouldn't be. It will be better. Hasn't it been better every year? Why should that change now?
Goodbye, Dr. Jernigan. We love you.