Yesterday evening, while watching the election results, I felt, more than any time I can remember, like I was watching history unfold. I remember the assassination of JFK, of MLK Jr., and of Bobby Kennedy. Although those were historic events, I didn't feel that awareness as I do now. I also remember going to the moon. I knew that was a historic event, but I didn't feel it quite the same way I felt it last night. I expect that has to do with age. Perhaps I was just young enough at the time of those past events that it didn't quite make it through just how historic those things were.
Last night was different. I'm older now. I have children and grandchildren and I am very aware, sometimes painfully so, how current events can shape their future. Being an older parent, of two relatively young children, I have seen and heard their expressions of wonder at some of those historic events I myself have witnessed. Last night Pa and I were joined by our two youngest. We watched together as history unfolded in front of our eyes.
Once the the numbers had come in to the point it was obvious who the next President of our country would be, I had experienced what seemed an odd combination of emotions. I was moved to an incredible level by the emotions being shown by Obama's supporters on the screen. It wasn't the whoopin' it up party as usual. It was raw emotions. It was hope. I saw Jesse Jackson in tears. I watched as Martin Luther King III spoke. I couldn't help but wish his Father had lived to see the moment. His dream was being realized. I saw hope in the eyes, in the posture of every person in those "camps", no matter the color of their skin. I saw Americans of every hue, age, and both genders moved to tears, not just for the victory of their candidate, but for dreams realized, and for hope.I was also thrilled to note that our country, for this historic event was not sharply divided by party lines. It would seem the majority of Americans voted for the person, rather than the party. For the first time in years I feel like we are not a divided nation. We are one United States of America.
Two men made me very proud last night. The first of those men was John McCain. He gave an incredible concession speech. While congratulating the new President elect, he called for unity, and declared his intentions to do all he could to work with, and assist his former opponent in the task ahead, which no doubt will be a very difficult task indeed. John McCain showed real class. He proved to me that he is all that I believed him to be. He is a man I would be honored to sit down and visit with. Although the odds of that happening are less than my winning the lottery, I've no doubt it would be an entertaining, and educational meeting. He is a good man. No, he is a great man, who has served our country well, and I expect he will continue to do so.
The second man who made me feel such pride last night was our President elect, Barack Obama. He stepped out not in arrogance, not in pride. Rather he took the stage with his trademark cool, calm, capable presence. He spoke of hope and of change. He spoke of unity, but those words were not conveyed as the empty promises of those who have gone before him. His words, his expressions, his whole demeaner seemed to be agreeing. He really seemed to mean it. His acceptance speech was not one of gloating, it was one of hope, and incredibly,a note of humility.
As Barack Obama stated last night, I have no doubt he will in the years to come make some unpopular decisions. I will be surprised if he does not make decisions that I disagree with, perhaps in some cases, quite strongly. But, I believe that all he does he will do because he believes it is the best thing for our Country. I dare to hope that he is right. I do not expect him to be perfect. I realize he is human after all. I know for a fact that he will, if given the opportunity, do at least one thing I will disagree with. However, that is something I don't believe should be a political thing in the first place, and I am fully capable of conveying, and hopefully instilling those personal beliefs and values to my children. I am also concerned about how one other issue that could personally affect me and my family may unfold under his leadership. This is an issue that is very important to me, and if I was one to vote for a person on a single issue then I would have voted for the other candidate. However, I realize, perhaps more than any other time in history, we need to look beyond one or two issues. We need to look at the whole very big picture. I have hope that the best person for that job will be taking over in the Oval Office.
I am, once again, after eight very long, painful years, proud to be an American.