It still sounds very strange. President Obama. I started writing this yesterday, the day after the election, but couldn’t really find the words.
I was sixteen when I sat with my feet in the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial listening to the speeches. I’ve said before that I remember John Lewis a lot more clearly than I remember Martin Luther King, Jr. Maybe that’s because Rep. Lewis was the young guy of the all the speakers, the one closest to my age and someone I identified with. The other night when he was being interviewed on MSNBC was when I began to lose it.
I also thought about the night Douglas Wilder was elected Governor of Virginia. My family has known him for many years and I still remember him cruising around Richmond in his powder blue Mercedes convertible. I worked hard for his election and felt a similar anxiety until all the votes had been counted. And now Virginia has, as I’ve been predicting, gone blue.
Eugene Robinson said it this way in the Washington Post this morning:
Yet something changed on Tuesday when Americans — white, black, Latino, Asian — entrusted a black man with the power and responsibility of the presidency. I always meant it when I said the Pledge of Allegiance in school. I always meant it when I sang the national anthem at ball games and shot off fireworks on the Fourth of July. But now there’s more meaning in my expressions of patriotism, because there’s more meaning in the stirring ideals that the pledge and the anthem and the fireworks represent.
For me, the emotion of this moment has less to do with Obama than with the nation. Now I know how some people must have felt when they heard Ronald Reagan say “it’s morning again in America.” The new sunshine feels warm on my face.