Just a thought...
I've had a couple of months to try to figure out what to write today. I was going to chicken out and post scenic pictures; if you happen to like what is happening in Washington, DC today, please go and look at some nice shots of babies and smiles and laughter and love at my Facebook page. This one may not be for you.
I couldn't just duck and cover and hide behind happy images because this day breaks my heart, and so I'll share the reason for what some people truly celebrating this day would sneer and call my "liberal tears" (or whatever the Russian translation is).
On this Inauguration Day, as I try to face the reality of what is actually transpiring, I'm taken back to where I was eight years ago: in a different place in so very many ways.
I was in an office getting a facial treatment that involved electrical pulses - not the nicest thing I've ever done for myself. But, you know the saying: you have to suffer to be...beautiful? Anyway, the woman who was providing this service for me was a lovely black woman named Dawn. It matters what colour she was because sharing that moment, watching the first African American president being sworn in, took on an even deeper meaning for me by being with her.
When we'd both looked at our calendars weeks earlier and realized we'd be together as Barack Obama was becoming US president, we giddily vowed to watch it during our appointment. As we streamed it on my laptop, we shared moments of tears and goose bumps, of great joy and awe.
Something important was happening. Something truly historic. A corner had been turned and the future once again looked bright for our neighbours to the south. Hope and change had triumphed over fear and war.
Did the next eight years unfold as everyone hoped? How could they? Given the +61 net favourable rating President Obama had going in, there was no way he wasn't going to disappoint. And the huge and undeniable fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated right out of the chute that Republicans' first priority was to make sure that nothing POTUS44 tried to do got passed was certainly a prophecy he, the GOP and eventually the electorate were able to make a reality.
So much for putting country first. The era of I, Me, Mine, which ramps up to warp speed starting today, was long foreshadowed by McConnell and his cronies.
I'm not a political journalist and I won't argue the pros and cons of Barack Obama's presidency. I will tell you what we experienced during world travels we embarked upon in the last eight years: from the Middle East to the deep US South and a dozen or so countries in between: the admiration for Barack Obama, his intelligence and decency, was obvious everywhere but in many parts of his own country.
How much of that outright vitriol and hatred had to do with the colour of his skin? We'll never know for sure. But it's hard not to look at the outright BS of the "birtherism" movement and come up with racism.
As Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia prepare to leave their home on Pennsylvania Avenue for the final time, I say a few words of thanks. I'm so grateful that amidst all of the lies and loathing, he survived his two terms as president and wish him and his beautiful family a peaceful second act in their far-too-public lives.
I'm grateful that we never had to cringe, wondering how parents were going to explain the controversies and scandals of the First Family that day.
I'm thankful that President Obama never made me worry that a late night temper tantrum might put my grandson's life in jeopardy; that he respected his office and his position (in both current events and in history) and went out of his way to be human in only the best ways.
He cried with us. He laughed with us. He even sang for us. He ended the recession, reformed health care, regulated big banks, oversaw the takedown of Osama bin Laden, brokered a nuclear arms deal with Iran, moved America towards action in the fight against climate change and - oh yes - was the biggest job creating president in US history.
Despite all that, and perhaps because of that persistent, unfounded and untrue rumour that he was not really American - not even Christian, as if that matters - he bore the weight of more undeserved hatred and opposition than any US leader in our lifetime.
Through it all, he stood tall. He spoke of love and of hope, of faith and of community. He was not - is not - perfect. But he did his job with dedication and pride, with vision and poise. It saddens me to fear - to know - that we will not see another leader like him for a very long time, if ever. And while my heart is filled with gratitude, today my eyes will again fill with tears.
But unlike on this day eight years ago, it will not be with happiness. God Help America.
(@erindavis on Twitter)