I missed the original American Idol show where General Larry Platt performed his show-stopping “Pants on the Ground.” Our pastor played the video at the beginning of his message the following Sunday and ended with a stirring rendition of his version—“Made from the Ground.”
After a few Google searches, it became obvious to me that the General had become an overnight global sensation. What was Larry Platt doing the other 62 years of his life? He isn’t called General because he was in the military—he was a general in the war against injustice. He was a civil rights activist who was beaten on the Bloody Monday March. He was recognized September 4, 2001, for his heroic efforts during the civil rights movement. In other words, he was an unsung hero for the things he believed in his heart to be important.
We all know these unsung heroes. They are the people who not only support the cause they believe in, they throw heart and soul in the effort. They brush obstacles aside with super-human strength.
I have been fortunate to know many of the unsung heroes in the battle against Alzheimer’s. I’ve know people with the disease who looked beyond their own tragedy and found a mission. Tracy Mobley, diagnosed at 38, worked tirelessly on Camp Building Bridges for children whose parents have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Tracy pieced together a Memory Quilt in honor of people with the disease. She’s an advocate and volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Caregivers are heroes too. Karen Henley’s life is focused around caring for her husband, Mike. She doesn’t seek recognition for her labor of love. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is one of the most challenging jobs a person can undertake. Caregivers know the meaning of unconditional love.
Alzheimer’s staff and volunteers are the rank and file soldiers. Alzheimer’s staff shares their expertise with the volunteers to increase the size of the army.
Penny Braun began her work with the Alzheimer’s Association as a volunteer. She went on to become the first executive director of the Mid-Missouri Chapter. She turned a one-person office into a fully staffed dynamic entity serving 29 Missouri counties. Penny is a hero in the war against Alzheimer’s.
Volunteers make up the largest force in any organization. When it comes to Alzheimer’s volunteers, I think of Ted Distler’s smiling face. For many years, Ted has motivated, prodded, and led hundreds of people into being involved in Memory Walk. Ted works tirelessly to support other caregivers and to share his experiences and knowledge with his community.
If good works ever went viral like the catchy tune and words of “Pants on the Ground” these special people and millions of other motivated volunteers would become household names.
The General himself said that he hoped “Pants on the Ground” didn’t overshadow his civil rights work. That makes the General a pretty smart man as far as I’m concerned. Instant fame didn’t make him forget that life isn’t just one shining moment, it involves years of plugging away at the causes you believe in.
I hope General Larry Platt’s inspiration to the world isn’t just the tune, but the man singing it. Otherwise, the pants on the ground merely drag out our tracks and erase the footprints of our legacy.