Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Everyone Was Watching

It seems nearly everyone watched the inauguration of President Obama.  From toddlers to the elderly, including those in my family.

I was up and watching the coverage from about 8:15 until I went to bed.  I did break away when the local news was on from 4:00 to 5:00 and then again from 7:00 – 9:00 to watch The Biggest Loser.  I had less interest in the Ball coverage, though I did watch that from 9:00 – 10:00.  

Like most, I was moved by the history of the day and the massive crowds present to witness history.  Reports say there were 2 million people and not one arrest.  The mood created by this president is evidence that we as people can come together peacefully and with like minds.  An idea that has been challenged and doubted for as long as I can remember. 

I had a chat over dinner with my mom and step-dad the other night, a day or two before the inauguration.  My mom thought the coverage and excitement for 4 days prior to the inauguration was overkill.  I told her it is history, it’s huge.  She agreed, but thought it still seemed to be too much.

I told her that not only are people of all colors excited by the history of having the first Black/African American President and all that entails, but it is also a collective sigh of relief.

George W. Bush has had the lowest approval rating of any president and most people have felt dread with him as Commander In Chief.  While I will admit not all that has happened in this country is entirely Bush’s fault, a lot of it is and as I learned a long time ago, whomever is in charge of a company or a country is ultimately held responsible for its failure and errors.  His presidency has represented a divide and a downfall with little hope of improvement or change.

President Obama has signified change, hope, and a return to a time of prosperity.  The ability for so many to come together without incident is evidence of this.  This is a large part of why so many were celebrating prior to the inauguration and why so many cried tears of joy and relief. 

Bring this idea together with the history of the day and it was overwhelming.

Every time they say President Obama, I pause.  I knew it was coming, but it still is hard to believe it really happened.  He IS the president.  It is surreal.

My nearly 90-year-old grandma has liked Obama from day one.  She watched all day (except when she was napping) and had a running commentary on the events, the people, the clothes.  It was cute.  She was disappointed, however, that they did not show the ball gowns of more people.  She was hoping to see Oprah’s gown. 

My 4-year-old nephew was playing on the floor while my sister watched the inauguration.  He seems to not pay attention to things, but we now know he does.  At one point, President Obama was speaking about duty.  My nephew, being his father’s child, had a Beavis and Butthead moment.  He stopped playing and said, “he said doody.  Doody, doody, doody.  Ha, ha.  Doody.  Doody.  Doody.”  Later he decided to go in the family room and watch his show on PBS.  He knows how to turn on the TV and put that channel on.  He came running out and said very exasperated, “Mom! Obama is on 11 too!” 

My 6-year-old niece is in first grade and they have been learning about presidents and democracy.  The other day she announced Lincoln is her favorite.  They watched the inauguration in school and she said some kids were crying because it was the first Black president.  I am not sure how much she understands truly, but she knows it is historic and important.  She is just starting to understand that people are different races or colors or religions, etc.  She is in a very multicultural school that embraces differences and educates all the children about them in a positive way.  I see her and her classmates and I see the future.  It’s beautiful.

One day, it will not be a big deal for the President to be Black, Female, Asian, Latino, Native American, Indian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Divorced, Single, Gay, Lesbian, etc.  One day, it will be so commonplace that the only thing people are concerned with is how well the person will lead this nation.  I see that day when I look at my niece and all the little children. 

Today, I revel in the moment and feel so much hope and excitement about the future.

Congratulations, Mr. President. 

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