Thursday, January 22, 2009

With Hope and Virtue, Let Us Brave Once More the Icy Currents

All this we can do. All this we will do.

My whirlwind trip to our nation's Capitol was marked with both highs and lows, bouts of energy and foot-numbing fatigue, overwhelming emotion and petty annoyance, but, Interested Parties, it was worth it.

The preparation for the long car rides combined with the anxiety of undertaking such a big adventure had clouded my vision for the first half of our journey. Miranda and I had long conversations about boys, we mainlined coffee and energy drinks, we stood in lines in freezing weather until our legs shook with the effort, and it distracted me from the reason we had driven almost 800 miles in the first place.

When our new Vice President finished the words to his oath, a woman standing near me cried out "No more Dick Cheney!" and my heart gave a little lurch. My life is not generally wrapped up in politics. I don't spend very much time contemplating how the actions of our nation's top leaders are affecting me, personally. Until the old administration was finally, officially no longer in power, I hadn't fully realized how anxious I had been feeling. My shoulders felt 10 pounds lighter and tears involuntarily sprang to my eyes because I don't have to be afraid of my government anymore.
It sounds rather drastic to proclaim it that way, but it's surprising how even the littlest emotions given time to fester and plant roots can so affect your life.

The Boy doesn't understand why I, and the millions of others who traveled to D.C. just to be there have such starry-eyed love and hope and respect for President Obama, and I've struggled in the past to rationalize what is, quite frankly, an irrational gut feeling. I think that anyone who listened to his speech would understand. The last 7 years have been ones filled with doubt, with fear, with uncertainty. We've been thrust into war, told that we are to fear The Other, had our freedoms taken away, been subject to cruel scrutiny, and been generally told that We Are Not Good Enough and everybody else hates us. President Obama gave us our dignity back. We are strong. We are resilient. We are still hard workers and we are still worthwhile. We are not a nation of quitters. We do not have to apologize for being who we are.

We don't have to feel sorry for ourselves anymore.

Our new President got to where he is not necessarily because we believe in him, but largely because he gave us the power to believe in ourselves again. Together, we shall overcome the shadow that was cast over the United States by the Bush administration. By helping each other, by working hard, and by never giving up, we will get through this.
That, my friends, is why I cried as I stood at the base of the Washington Monument, and why I, and millions of others, set out on ridiculous journeys these last couple days. So we could be there with him, to take part in the day where fear was replaced with hope, and we were told to carry on.

Catherine Elizabeth

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