I am happy to say that I am back home in New York from my trip to Rome.  It was oppressively hot, and our air travel experience was slightly less than enjoyable.  I was in Rome accompanying Dr. Robin L. Smith and Dr. Max Gomez of the Stem for Life Foundation.

This was a follow-up visit to the Vatican where in November of 2011 the Stem for Life Foundation and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture held a global conference titled Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture. The below photo of me meeting Pope Benedict XVI was from the November trip.

This latest visit to the Vatican was the opportunity for Dr. Smith and Dr. Gomez, along with Monsignor Tomasz Trafny of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, to directly present their recently completed book titled Our Stem Cells: The Mystery of Life and Secrets of Healing to the Holy Father.

The book focuses on concepts discussed at the First International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference and presents the reader with an engaging, comprehensive overview of adult stem cells and their vital role in a future of regenerative medicine. In powerful accessible language, the book showcases a wide array of emerging adult stem cell breakthroughs.

In addition to making the science easy to understand, the authors filled the book with here-and-now case studies on how adult stem cell therapies are already helping real people suffering needlessly from deadly and debilitating diseases and medical conditions.

The book not only speaks to the success of the Stem for Life Foundation’s historic partnership with the Vatican, but it sets the stage for the next set of events that the collaboration will deliver.

I am sharing this with you not only because my trips to the Vatican and the opportunities that I have had to work with the Stem for Life Foundation have been truly amazing, rather, I want to share with you some interesting experiences that I had while attending this ceremony.

For those that actually read my blogs, you know that I tend to write about topics that relate to the United States, its economy and how we as individuals participate in both.  Well, here I go again, more about America, its economy and its citizens.  I might be the only person that can find a way to relate a visit at the Vatican to American economics.  However, while awaiting the presentation ceremony, Pope Benedict delivered a Mass, amazingly I might add, in about six or seven different languages, for literally thousands and thousands of people.

Irrespective of your religious beliefs, it really is a moving experience. As part of the Mass, a number of Priests, each speaking a different language, addressed those attending and announces the presence of select groups from various parts of the world.  Each time a group’s name is announced, they try to make their presence and their love for the Pope known by screaming, shouting, waving flags, singing or playing music so that the Pope will see them and send a personal wave of blessing.

A couple of things stuck out for me during this “hair raising” experience.  First of all the pride that each group had for their homeland or even their individual city, when announced, was almost unimaginable and brought tears to my eyes.

By the way, the folks from the various American states and cities were incredible.  The Texans were really great, but the group from North Dakota, Wow, I have never heard such pride.  They showed their love for the Pope and their pride of being at the Vatican representing North Dakota in such a way that all those attending, had to turn around with cheek splitting smiles of approval and stand up and clap for the energetic Americans!  It was truly breathtaking to hear such joy and pride from any individual group.  Of course, I have a special bias for the North Dakotan, for they were also representing the Untied States.

Even though the pride of the American pilgrims was amazing, what most stood out for me was how each group from America was introduced.  It made no difference if the group was introduced by their state or by their city, they were ALWAYS, addressed as being from THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  Not the U.S., not America, but THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

This really struck me and I was so emotional each time it was announced.  These days we far too often, simply refer to our country as America or the U.S.  Not that there is anything wrong with this, but sometimes it makes me think that we have forgotten what we as a country are all about.  We live in the United States of America.  We have always been a country with diverse communities and equally diverse interests, yet we have “united”, to build our nation.

I believe that it is this, essentially simple concept of “uniting” or coming together, can allow our country to emerge from this difficult economic period, stronger and more united than we ever have been.  If we all can take the time to think about how our personal desires and actions effect the “big picture” when building for our individual successes, we, as a country can have the opportunity to get back to the core principles of our fore fathers.  United we stand, divided we fall.

This is and we are, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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