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My Championship Speech: Silver Bullets

Delivered August 18, 1990 in Dallas, Texas

You can’t go home again. That’s what Thomas Wolfe said.

But ladies and gentlemen, I was born and raised right here in Dallas, Texas, so at least for today, I’ve come home. And it feels good.

Mr. Chairman, fellow Toastmasters and guests: In case you’re wondering, yes, some of us really do dress this way down here.... The tuxedo is a symbol of respect.  And the jeans? Well, the jeans mean we put just a little too much of our oil money into Texas savings and loans.

It’s the matter of respect, however, that is the foundation of my message today. And in a time in which the famous are becoming infamous, a time in which contemptible behavior has become commonplace, maybe its time we looked beyond mere symbols. Perhaps it’s time we all came home again to a few values we seem to have left behind.

First, let me tell you what I left behind. I said I grew up in Dallas. Truth is, I was raised just a few miles south of here in a tiny town named DeSoto...which, as far as I know, is the only town in the state named for a car. Remember Mayberry? Well, it was a lot like Mayberry, only not nearly as cosmopolitan.

But it was home for the first half of my life. The place where my two brothers and I learned values and principles...such values and principles as honor, integrity, and self-respect.

And from whom did we learn these values? (Pause) From television! Yes, television, because that’s where our heroes lived. Oh sure, our parents and grandparents tried to teach us the same lessons, but we were kids, so we paid attention to television. Remember now, this was 30 years ago and we had different role models than...Bart Simpson and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

No, this was the era of Superman, Sky King and Roy Rogers. My brothers and I watched their shows, and when they were over, we went outside to re-enact them. My older brother, of course, would be Roy Rogers. So, naturally, I got to be...Dale Evans. Oh, it wasn’t so bad, really...our little brother got to be Trigger.

Yes, we had great role models back then. But the best role model of all was--wait--let’s see if you remember. I’m going to start a famous phrase and I want you to finish it when I give you this cue (hand sign as if twirling a lasso).

But remember, we do things BIG down here, so I want them to hear you from Singapore to San Antone. Are you ready? Then return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty: (Audience response: Hi-yo Silver, away...)

Yes! The Lone Ranger rides again.  Makes you feel good, doesn’t it? Well, from the moment I heard those words I was swept away...swept away to a wonderful time and place where honor and integrity and self-respect were valued and rewarded.

I wanted to grow up to be just like the Lone Ranger. I wanted to ride a fiery white stallion and wear a mysterious black mask. And I wanted to shoot silver bullets.

But more than this, I wanted to be like the Lone Ranger because even as a child, I knew there was something special about a person who stood tall--a person who stood for what was right.

But then something happened and everything changed: I grew up. And as I learned to separate fantasy from fact, I learned a terrifying truth. I learned that the heroes of a modern world were but mere mortals, and oh what fools these mortals be.

Why, in just the past three years we’ve seen an Olympic athlete stripped of his gold medals because he used drugs. We’ve seen not one, but two television ministers fall from grace. We’ve seen billionaires bankrupted by greed.

And we’ve seen Donald Trump...be Donald Trump.

Honor, integrity, self-respect? It seemed we’d left them all behind.

Until last year. June 3, 1989. Beijing.

After days of peaceful protest, a column of armored tanks rumbled into Tiananmen Square. Everyone in their path ran for safety. Everyone...but one.

About a hundred yards down the street, standing firmly on the center line, one man remained. He stood alone. His life...was on the line.

The tanks came close...rtheir massive steel tracks clawing at the center line. The man stood firm. The tanks kept coming...closer...and closer...until the lead tank closed to within inches. And the man stood tall.

And then...the tanks...stopped.

I wanted to cheer...but I was choked by tears. Who was that man who moved me so? I wanted to know. Ah, but then I remembered...you’re not supposed to know...the Lone Ranger’s name.

Oh, in that one triumphant moment, he took us back to yesteryear--a wonderful time when people stood for what was right--no matter what the cost.

And he reminded us of what we’ve all known since we were children: to make a difference, all we need are three silver bullets: honor, integrity and self-respect.

Yes...in more ways than one, we can come home again.