Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Uplifted

I've been asking myself all weekend--why isn't Inauguration Day a holiday? Then I remembered that I sort of skipped over the past two inaugurations without a qualm. I'm proud that power in America transitions seamlessly every four years whether or not the elections turn out as we hoped, but I don't find inaugurations exactly momentous. This one is different.

Everyone keeps saying it's historic. Yeah, it's historic to have a black president, I agree totally, even while I feel like he's got more than a little bit of the Melting Pot in his lineage. I also feel like it was a watershed because so many people like me got involved, believed, dared to hope, and were inspired. Tomorrow makes me want to sing all my favorite patriotic songs, dress in red, white and blue, and hug a Republican. I want to cheer and cry tears of pride.

There is so much positive energy emanating from D.C. that the country is vibrating from rocky Maine shorelines to blacksand Hawaiian beaches. Have you felt it? Excitement mixed with anticipation and hope? I felt this same energy on Election Day.

It's impossible for me to believe that this new administration is gonna be business as usual. I'm always getting emails from Michelle and Barack asking me what I think, letting me know how to get involved to help others, reiterating that democracy is a group effort. It's completely different from the political form letters I usually get when I contact my Representative. I'm opinionated enough to sound off, but skeptical that my views count. At least I was. I've reverted back to my pre-Watergate 60's beliefs that one goes into politics to do good and bring about change and fairness. There's idealism in the air. Dare to dream.

People may have made their usual egocentric New Year's Resolutions twenty days ago, but now we're making pledges of sharing and service to our neighbors, our communities, our country, our planet. Has any president since Kennedy elicited such a response? I think an outpouring like this, when so many of us are facing financial uncertainty if not downright hardship, is a tribute to the American spirit.

I'm curious what my neighbors and co-workers are pledging to do. Mine is to volunteer during summer vacation--either at the SPCA exercising and training dogs up for adoption or at the nearest year-round school as a phonemic awareness/phonics tutor for kindergarten and first grade. See? I've thought about volunteering before, but now I've committed out loud and in black-and-white. That's progress.

I've set this to post on Tuesday morning right as President Obama (wow! that feels good to say!) takes his oath of office. I'll be watching and hoping I get to hear most of his inauguration speech which I've been anticipating since November. After reading The Audacity of Hope I think I can anticipate some of President Obama's (feels just as good to say the second time) themes. I hope it's as memorable as FDR's and JFK's. I've got a good feeling.

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