This summer I will be spending a week with a group of women who will be celebrating twenty-eight years of sobriety. I met these women when I worked in the mental health and they were all drinking. All of the women got sober with the help of Alcholics Anonymous which began today, June 10, in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio.
Here's how it began: Newly sober Bill Wilson was on a trip to Akron, Ohio. Meeting with Dr. Smith he explained what had happened to him, how he got sober and found real spirituality. Dr. Smith took his last drink on this date in 1935. After Bill Wilson's first drink he declared that he had "found the elixir of life." It actually was the elixir of his self destruction and Bill Wilson took many times "drying out."
Finally, in Towns Hospital in New York City recovering from a major bender, he cried out "if there is a God, let him show himself. I am ready to do anything, anything!...Suddenly," said Wilson, "the room lit up with a great white light." Wilson then said, "So this is the God of the preachers! No matter how wrong things seem to be, they are still all right. Things are all right with God and this world." Bill Wilson never drank again and by sharing his experience with Dr. Bob (Smith) began the great self help movement of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Many people travel to Bill Wilson's grave in East Dorset, Vermont leaving a stone, a rock or some little sign that they have been there as a thank you. My friends who are celebrating their twenty-eight years of sobriety this summer still attend Alcoholics Anonymous.
Like Bill Wilson helping Dr. Bob find sobriety after his last drink in 1935, they also help many of the newly sober work the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, they have found the on-going spiritual growth that takes place in AA and the gift of sobriety that comes from helping others.
AA is not just a sober program, it is a spiritual program that has helped people all over the world. It began seventy-six years ago today, helping people to accept what they can't change, getting the courage to change what the can, and as the "Serenity Prayer" says finding the wisdom to know the difference.
Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief of Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor. She is the co-author of the forthcoming book "Self-Empowerment: Nine Things the 19th Century Can Teach Us About Living In the 21st Century" (Changing Lives Press) which will be published in September.