What I learned about unity from the good folks at Intel - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

What I learned about unity from the good folks at Intel

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Diane Meehl freelance copywriter & journalist | serial volunteer | bookworm

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Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:00 am | Updated: 3:42 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

Chances are that unless you traveled to a remote arctic village last week, you caught wind of the "tiff on the tarmac." Or "Fingergate," as the terse exchange between President Obama and Gov. Brewer's been dubbed. And it's a shame that singular event stole the real show. Not from President Obama's visit - but rather, from the good folks at Intel.

It's not every day an average mom scores a ticket to see the President speak live. And when I arrived to wait for four hours for Mr. Obama to take the podium, all I could think about was how much I wanted one of those blue shirts. Not for Team Obama - for Team Intel.

I won the ticket to the invitation-only event where the President was scheduled to speak last week in a truly 21st century sort of way. A friend and Intel employee had an extra ticket to offer, and posted an invitation to compete for it on his Facebook page.

I'd love to tell you my entry was the most witty and compelling. But the truth is - mine was the only response!

It's been many years since I worked in corporate America, and on that day I remembered the pieces of it I had loved. I wanted to be a part of their diverse, warm, cool, smart family. Oh - I'm sure they have their dysfunctions.

But on that day, I stood among a crowd of people unified in working toward the same goal. Standing at the edge of the construction site for Intel's new $5 billion factory, or "Fab 42," the towering crane that speared the skyline held the promise of new technology, new jobs, and the indomitable American spirit.

Standing in that crowd, I was struck by generosity and warmth that marks our collective American lifeblood.

Thousands of people stood together for four long, hot hours outside. Peacefully. Laughing. Doing the wave. Teasing the press. Chatting politely. Helping elderly guests navigate the crowd.

The folks at Intel (not surprisingly) were expertly prepared, and every contingency was accounted for.

Firefighters were on hand to respond to emergencies; restrooms, water, and emergency snacks were plentiful. Scores of Intel volunteers ensure the attendees were secure, and traffic threaded smoothly.

It was a small slice of America, and I reveled in it - the pride, the anticipation, the joy.

When Intel's CEO, Paul Otellini, took the podium, he was greeted with cheers and enthusiasm. It was clear to me that the good folks at Intel wanted their company to win.

Their pride was palatable in the "hoo-ahs" that punctuated his words of thanks to the President for showcasing their project.

I'm not here to debate President Obama's motives in visiting our battleground state to enjoy a perfect photo-op against the backdrop of Fab 42. It isn't lost on me that President Obama's in campaign mode. But it also seemed to me he wasn't there to take any credit for Intel's decision to invest in American workers rather than outsource.

It's been reported already that Intel's decision was a product of existing tax benefits passed in 2005. I read his message as simply one of thanks, showcasing "an America within our reach." He reminded the audience that when Americans work together, nothing is out of our reach.

I'm certain that not everyone in the audience supported Obama - and some wore their pride on their sleeves, literally. The gentleman I stood next to - who kindly indulged me in some conversation - a tenured Intel employee and solid Republican, told me that as a Christian and a former military service member, he was there because he respected the office of the presidency.

And for someone like me who often feels alone in trying hard to listen to all sides - I was encouraged.

There were protesters too, lining the perimeter of the campus. Still, 6,000 people across every walk of life stood together in unity. For the company and for their country.

And though one scandalous picture of that day that symbolized division went viral online, in real time; I can tell you this - what I witnessed that day at Intel was a house united.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Meehl is a freelance writer. Reach her at diane@shiftkeycontent.com.

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