BY BILL WILSON
Bill Wilson © 2009
What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in California seems to take hold and change the world. You only have to look at this year’s inductees into the California Hall of Fame to understand the validity of that statement. Andrew Grove might not be as well known as some of the other inductees, but the chances are great that something you used today was made possible by his invention of the microchip. (Yes, you are reading this online thank Andrew Grove!)
The health care reform debate in Congress is nothing new. Inductee Henry J. Kaiser offered his employees the world’s first prepaid health plan in 1938 and in 1942 he founded what would become the nation’s largest health maintenance organization, literally re-forming health care. Inductee Hiram Johnson, California Governor and US Senator, was responsible for instituting the processes of initiative, referendum and recall, which resulted in direct democracy in California.
Danielle Steel’s books have been published in 47 countries in 28 languages and have sold over 500 million copies. She holds the record for the longest number of weeks (381) she had a book on the bestseller list.
As winner of the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rafer Johnson made his reputation on the international stage. In 1968 he was present at the victory party for Robert Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was he who ended up wrestling the gun from the hand of the assassin. He helped found the California Special Olympics in 1969.
Chuck Yeager made his pioneering effort in the air, becoming the first man to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. His aviation career had started during World War II. He shot down five enemy aircraft in one day an extraordinary accomplishment that made him a natural to become a test pilot after the war.
If there is something so unique to the California sun, the ocean breezes, the mountain vistas, that causes California to be blessed with creative energy that produces giants in every field, then it is only proper and fitting to celebrate it. Each inductee is given a medal that pictures a person looking over their shoulder dreaming what is not yet to be. The words “Spirit of California” sum it up very well.
See Related: ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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