Like millions of people around the world, we watched Barack Obama become our nation's 44th President today. Shannon cut his first tooth on election day 2004, when Kerry lost to Bush. The boys go with me most times when I vote, but this election was the first where they were both alive to go with me. I had hesitated about taking them, but the significance was too great not to. We had high hopes about Obama winning, and like many others, we didn't like Bush.
I've been telling the kids, mainly Shannon though since Tristan is a little young still to understand, how important today was. It's been quite a cute day to be around them. I've gotten Shannon to say "Inauguration Day" and I've overheard him telling Tristan that "today is a VERY important day!" When I asked him why today was important he told me "because we're lucky" ~ I asked why we were lucky and he said "because we love Obama."
A little bit of that is from an earlier conversation where I was telling him that he ought to be grateful for the things he has in this life. That he's a very lucky boy, and that we're a very lucky family, because we are plentiful in the things that truly matter.
Justin had to work today, but he left for lunch a little early and made a trip to a nearby pub. He normally takes his lunch (and did today), but I persuaded him that today was worth a trip out. The boys are normally down for naps by noon, but I kept getting Shannon up. He got to see everyone leaving the White House for the Capitol. He got to see the former Presidents and their wives coming out, and we talked about who they were, what "number" President they were, and so on. Finally, I got him back up right before Biden was sworn in. We stood up while both Biden and Obama were being sworn in. We listened to President Obama's speech, and Shannon clapped several times through it when the crowd and I did. Since Justin and I couldn't be together, we agreed to both have a beer and take a sip when President Obama began his speech. Certainly a toast was in order.
I'm not normally patriotic. In fact, probably quite the opposite. But this election has changed things. I'm still cynical and cautious, but like a close friend told me the other day, for the first time I feel patriotic as well.
We are full of hope and optimism. Yes, the road ahead will be hard and things will probably get worse before they get better. But, today, today is special. Today the rest of the world got a glimpse of the America we want to be ~ not the greedy, inconsiderate, loud-mouthed rednecks they've come to think of us as. Today we proved that we are the things we were founded on, and that anyone can become President.
Shannon asked, while watching the massive crowds and all the excitement, if we could go see Obama. I promised him that we will go visit the White House, and that we will try to make sure to do so during Obama's first 4 years. I sincerely hope though that Shannon remembers this day, even if only a little bit.
Even more so, I hope that the hope and optimism of today carries us through the hard times. I sincerely hope that we can all answer the call that has been set forth. I know this will be posted so many places, but it needs to be. I saw it on a friends' flickr page (http://flickr.com/photos/saintbridge/3212451227/) and I want to share it here because it needs to be posted as many places as possible so that we can not forget:
"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.This is the price and the promise of citizenship." ~ President Barack Obama
Today's tears of joy flow freely and very happily, and strengthen our resolve to be strong, to keep on our path, and perhaps to even dare be patriotic and have faith in our government. Ironically, just after Obama was sworn in, but before his speech, FedEx pulled up and delivered a package. It was my Soul One Brewery t-shirt. A sign for certain. A bit of a dream delivered to my door, to let me know that change is coming, and it will be a good thing.
A very warm and hearty welcome to the Era of Responsibility.