Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Day I Will Never Forget

**you will notice that there is nothing in this post about political party or policy. Yesterday was way beyond that. No matter who you voted for and what party you support there is no question that yesterday was historic. I am not looking for an argument about political ideology here, so play nice if you are going to leave a comment.**

Yesterday was amazing for me. I only wish my kids were a little older so they could understand the magnitude of the moment. Avery does go around saying, "Obama is our President!" but she doesn't really remember a time in her life when we didn't talk about Obama so she doesn't know how amazing that statement is. Here are some of my thoughts on the day; listed so I can always remember the feeling. 

the speech: First let me say that when Obama walked onto the podium all alone after everyone else had been announced and seated you could see the look on his face. It was as though he realized how lonely it is at the top and he started to feel the weight of the office on his shoulders. It was stunning to see. 

When he spoke after he was sworn in (we won't even discuss how Roberts flubbed that), he didn't give a soaring speech with lots of prose. He really laid it out for the crowd of Very Excited people. The tone of his speech was more serious, as if he was saying:  look, we have things to do. Today is fun, but things are serious and I am here to do things differently. We are going to make some sacrifices, but we can do it together because it can't just be on me to make the changes on my own. 

When he said that we are a young country but it is time to "put away childish things" I lost my breath. What a great way to tell our leaders in Washington to grow up and start working together.  
When he said to other countries, "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist" it really gave us an idea of how he will handle foreign policy. So much different than the cowboy ways we have become used to over the last 8 years. 
When he said we are "ready to lead again" I felt both proud and uncomfortable at the same time knowing that Bush was sitting just feet from where he was giving the speech. Man, that took some....guts.
When he talked about how his own father would not have been served in certain restaurants in Washington only 60 years earlier it brought tears to my eyes. If only his parents and beloved Grandmother could have lived to see the moment. 

Just an all-around great speech that matched the tone of our times and the seriousness of the job ahead of him while acknowledging the excitement of the crowd. 

After the formal ceremonies, during lunch, the parade and the balls,  I saw an American Family and not a black family. And the cool thing is that I think (hope) that most people saw them the same way I did. I promise 30 years ago I could not make that same statement with such confidence. 

It really makes you believe in the American dream again. It makes you realize that anyone can do anything! Who would have ever imagined that a black man with a name like his would win the White House?We were very early supporters of Obama and I remember Matt saying (almost 2 years ago) that Obama has great ideas and is very inspiring but with a name like that he will never get elected. How amazing that he did.

Finally, I want to share a poem that I think sums up some of the feelings of this amazing accomplishment. 

I, Too, Sing America
By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.



Obviously I don't know what it is like to be black. To have ancestors that were slaves. To have living relatives that feared for their safety because of the color of their skin. To be treated as second class citizens. To be limited about where I could eat or sleep when traveling. To currently deal with racial profiling and prejudice. I don't know how that feels. 

And the best news is that hopefully this election means that many black children will also not know what it feels like to be profiled or treated as "lesser than." We have a long way to go, no question, but we have made a huge down payment on MLK's dream. 

I wish President Obama all the best. I hope people are willing to give him time to implement his policies and plans to improve the country. It will take all of us--Democrats and Republicans--to make a difference. 

Congratulations, America! Today is a new day.

1 comment:

JoAnn Smith said...

Amy,

Thanks for writing this. It means a great deal to me and I will be forwarding this on to others. I always remember your kind heart from grade school and I see it hasn't changed.Your feelings are my own, which proves that White,Black,Asian and other races all have feelings in common if nothing else. I will never forget yesterday and the people that surrounded me at the mall. There was people of all races,backgrounds, religions. They all were there to support our new President and get back to what President Obama talked about..hope.
God Bless,
JoAnn