Ah, I remember it well.

May 25th, 1986. The basic idea was to have a human chain that stretched from coast to coast. You had to pay to be in the chain, and they also sold t-shirts and buttons and stuff, and people were encouraged to fundraise if they were participating. The goal was to raise money to fight hunger all over the world.

This was happening at the height of Reagan-era charity extravaganzas--we'd already been through Band-Aid, Live Aid, Farm Aid and Comic Relief, but the idea this time was to actually get people directly doing something. Of course, though, they had the obligatory feel-good theme song, also called "Hands Across America."

I was part of the chain in Cherry Hill, NJ--part of the group that went with our high school's Honor Society. To be honest, it was a lot of fun--a lot more fun than standing in a big long line, holding hands has any right to be. However, I was sorely disappointed. They had no problem finding people to be chain links in the Northeast, and in fact our line would zigzag around and around to fit everyone in (they had around 6 million people total), but out in the desert--like Arizona or Nevada--the chain was represented by red ribbons. Part of the appeal of the event for me was the idea that there would be a viable human chain, people touching people, all the way across the country. I was sad it didn't happen.

I also remember a bit of controversy over what actually happened to all the money they raised. Like many of the charity events of the '80s, it probably wasn't as effective as people would have hoped.

But, I know it will be something my grandkids might think is cool I was a part of. If I have any grandkids, that is.

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