Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Joining Of Kindred Souls By Fabio Botarelli

On July 22nd, AAPD hosted its major awards ceremony. Prior to this event, I was in the Congressional library, completing my action memo on our countries monetary policy, while remaining cognizant of the 4:20 pm mandatory meeting time. With the help of an employee I discovered that there was a ninth floor in the Hart building after all.
Throughout the early part of the week, I waited patiently for this day, expecting excitement and the joy of being with the other AAPD interns, but what occurred that day really blew my mind. Two of our guest speakers were distinguished senators, including Patrick Leahy. If any of you remember watching the Dark Knight, Patrick Leahy had a one minute cameo appearance on the film in which he stood up to the Joker. Today I now know why they included a man of his caliber to be involved in that scene because this is the same man who has stood up intrepidly for the rights of people with disabilities. There were many great speakers who had a lot of insightful words to say, but the one that really stood out was when the senator opposite of Senator Leahy talked openly about how employers use to discriminate against people with disabilities and how because of this discrimination, 60 percent of eligible people with disabilities are currently unemployed. Coupled with the fact that less than 1 percent of federal employees have disabilities and you are given a starch reality of the improvement that needs to take place. But that being said, the disability movement has made marvelous progress, thanks to AAPD and other public officials in support of the movement. Before for example, a person with disabilities could not go to court if an employer discriminated against them, but today people with disabilities have much greater protection from the legal system. A few days later, I received some pictures in the mail and on face book with regards to the ceremony. They are pictures of all of us AAPD interns with smiles on our faces and doing goofy poses. Usually I am not the type to make an asinine of myself on camera but on that very day I broke that golden rule and accidentally made a funny pose in a picture that was supposed to be a serious one. I will hang on to that picture for all eternity on facebook. To all of you AAPD staff out there I want to thank you not only for planning such an astonishing event but for elating my spirits in the process.

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