Missed RootsTech? Don’t worry. All the live streamed keynotes and presentations are available on the RootsTech website to watch at your leisure.
I watched the live presentations of the keynote addresses delivered by US figure skating champion Scott Hamilton and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Finding Your Roots fame, and I highly recommend both of them. I plan to watch the recordings of the other keynotes.
While my expectations were high for Dr. Gates’ keynote, and he met all of them, Mr. Hamilton’s was a wonderful surprise. I had anticipated a speech about figure skating and setting goals, sprinkled with comments about his heritage. I was wrong.
The Olympic gold medalist’s speech was filled with pure joy, and he knew who his audience was — family historians. He spoke with warmth and humility, and he delivered messages that resonated with those in attendance on site and online. This was not a canned speech. This was the first time he delivered it, and he said it would be the last.
Mr. Hamilton told us he was adopted at six weeks old and raised by two college professors. His father was the strict parent, and his mother was the loving, kind one.
Although he did not look like anyone in his family, people said he most looked like his mother.
“That’s because you always resemble the ones that love you most,” Mr. Hamilton said in his address. “My mother was the center of my universe.”
Mr. Hamilton summarized his RootsTech message by encouraging people to celebrate and honour the past, “because without our past, our present has no meaning. And our future is worthless.”
Watch the segment after his address when he is presented with his adoptive heritage. Such a treat.
As for Dr. Gates’ speech, one of my favourite lines, and I have many, was this one: “Speak the name of your ancestor and they will never die.”
There were several presentations I was unable to watch live, so I’m glad they have been recorded to watch at my leisure.