Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Dawning

It’s a momentous day in the United States. I’m not sure that it’s the one that I will never forget, since there are things like the Challenger explosion, 9-11, and the Columbia explosion that are burned into my memory, however it is certainly to be included on the list of the most memorable days of my life. I am a child of Texas. I am a military brat. I have no memory of being particularly aware of skin color when I was young. I can remember my younger brother describing other kids as that light brown, or dark brown, boy or girl. Honestly, I don’t remember who they were, nor do I have any idea of their ethnicity, other than they were probably darker skinned than we were. I was 3 when we moved overseas, to Athens, Greece. We went to school at Ursuline Academy, the only American school in our area. As we were all military or diplomatic children, we were an eclectic mix, as best I recall. When I was almost 8, we moved back to the States, to a major Army base in the Midwest. We all went to school together, on the base, again, an eclectic mix. When we left the military a couple of years later, we returned to Texas. Our home was in a relatively average, middle class neighborhood in a suburb of Dallas. By the time that I graduated from high school, I had attended 4 elementary schools, middle school, and 3 high schools in 4 cities. That’s a LOT of kids that I encountered. If you went down a list of names from all of those schools, aside from names that are clearly ethnic, whether first or surnames, I could probably identify as definitely black or African-American, ummm 5 people. I didn’t grow up seeing skin color as a means of identification. As a 5th generation Texan, it might be presumed that I might have been taught differently. Racial differences were truly irrelevant in our house. Racial slurs or jokes were not tolerated. Nonetheless, I was truly not sure that a minority of my generation would become president. I never doubted that I would see a minority President in my lifetime, I simply didn’t dream that it would be a man (or woman) of my generation. It makes me wonder what my mother and grandmother would have thought. I have no doubt that they would have been proud of the selection, whether they particularly agreed with it. We have an incredible opportunity to see a new dawning in America. We are now led by a common man, who has achieved uncommon things. I believe he is in a unique position to truly understand and empathize with a much broader cross-section of the US population than most of his predecessors, certainly most of those in my memory. He has gotten to where he is through hard work and honesty, rather than through the accident of birth into a wealthy, politically active family. I think, perhaps, I identify more strongly with him than I would have identified with a woman in the same position. Throughout the election process, I have been pretty quiet about which direction I was leaning, largely because I abhor conflict and just didn’t want to engage in arguments about who is right and who is wrong. This is America, we each are allowed to have an opinion, and express it, without fear of retribution. I have my opinion, which may or may not agree with yours, and I may not like yours, but I will respect it. All I ask is that you respect mine. You don’t have to like President Obama, but you do owe him the respect that is due our legally elected and sworn leader. I, for one, am looking forward to the coming weeks and months. I have no idea how well he will adhere to campaign promises or how closely he will follow the ideals he set forth in an eloquent and inspiring inaugural address. I hope that he will be able to follow through as much as possible, and I believe that he will do so to the best of his abilities. I pray that he will receive the guidance he needs to be successful, and to unify our amazing country, and work toward the most beneficial resolution to the conflicts that he has inherited with his inauguration, and move us forward into this new era of responsibility.

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