Wednesday, January 21, 2009
It's early Wednesday morning, and I'm packing my stuff to leave Washington, D.C.
There were lots of things I didn't get to see, such as my friend who lives here. But it was so hectic for me. I'll have to come back.
I wrote some of my thoughts for The Herald, for a story. Here is some of that. It needs editing, I'm sure. But I wanted to convey some of my excitement here:
Hundreds of people in front of me wait with anxiously for our next president to appear.
Behind me, hundreds of thousands of others, scream and chant. The chants wave to the front and over my head to the podium where he would stand soon: "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!"
I have never seen so many people so excited about a president. Yes, all the others in my lifetime had lots of support. But each have also had their fair share of naysayers. This time, the naysayers are few. Or maybe it just seems that way. The supports have definitely drowned them out for the last year.
I have seen the glee, the excitement on the people's faces.
This morning, while I was packed in with hundreds on a train ride to the inauguration, I met a woman from Madrid, Spain. She arrived Monday night for the event, she said through her friend, who was from California. She spoke no English, but communicated her excitement with a cheesy grin on her face and hand flying in circles to show how enormous she thought this moment was. She said she had to be here, that she couldn't miss witnessing this.
This is her:
It was cold, windy 27 degrees and my body temperature went from hot — in the train — to freezing — walking to my entrance — in the matter of minutes. My toes eventually went numb, my nose started to run and I could see every breath I took.
But I wouldn't trade that moment for anything in the world. To watch someone who looked more like me, seemed to be more like me, than any other president this country has ever had, meant a lot.
It told me that my country is getting beyond judging people negatively based on the color of their skin. Yes, I heard many people say that they wouldn't vote for a black man. But there were so many more who would, and did.
It told me that people all over can be passionate about the state of government. The topic of politics never came up around my family's Thanksgiving table or at family reunions. No one talked about things like that, because they didn't believe that government was truly trying to help them. But for our last two Thanksgivings, when I was home in St. Louis, we debated the merits of Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Mitt Romney.
My cousins and I talked about Sarah Palin at our September family reunion. They thought she pushed the women's movement backward. I said the fact that she's in such a spotlight helped push it forward.
And when that moment came, and President Barack Obama completes the oath, the deafening cheers of the crowd was shocking at first, and then settling.
We have a president a overwhelming majority of Americans wanted.
President Obama has a lot of work to do, and I don't expect him to solve everything. But I truly believe that he is going to be good for our country.