Smith: What the pope’s visit means to America

Paul W. Smith

“Outta’ My Mind on a Saturday Moanin’ ”

As I put this column to bed (a little newspaper lingo for you) on early Thursday afternoon (already missing my noon deadline for “filing” this story), I happily admit I have been glued to the coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to our country. Thankfully, as of 1:15 p.m. Thursday, everything has gone great. Even better than expected.

I do feel oftentimes, I might be watching the pope and everything surrounding him through thousands of “smart” phones perpetually pointed in the direction of the pontiff, endlessly capturing his every move through pictures and videos.

Honestly, I saw some people actually seeming to miss the opportunity to have a real, albeit very short, live, eye-to-eye contact with the pope while they struggled to get their selfie or other picture on their phone.

Never have so many waited so long to have so little time, maybe 10 seconds of waving, as he drove by in his Jeep popemobile, or FIAT 500L. Most everyone didn’t hesitate to say the hours invested for the seconds of “being there” live as he went by were well worth it. A once-in-a-lifetime, forever-savored moment.

■I think those of us who watched the pope address the joint session of Congress felt the “history in the making” that was very real, given no pope had ever stood in that position, nor taken that opportunity before.

I did not know till now that Speaker John Boehner, as a second-term congressman, started working on getting a pope to address Congress more than 20 years ago. He finally saw it happen under his watch, and the emotional impact was immense and obvious.

I think many of us were a bit emotional watching this man of the church so gently remind us what has made this country great from its birth, and to see his joy, finally being in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

Though you might not agree with everything he says or believes, I hope you can join me in saying, “God bless the pope and God bless America!”

Paul W. Smith is host of “The Paul W. Smith Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.