Tuesday morning, I woke up to get ready for work after a nice long weekend thanks to good ol' Martin Luther King, Jr. I showered and turned the TV on to watch the news while I finished getting ready, like I always do. Except this time when Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer popped onto my screen, I found myself standing there entranced by the pre-inauguration coverage. After a text message from the person I had planned to watch the inauguration with at work and a few phone calls and emails to take care of some things, I decided to take the day off. I knew if I went to work I'd be transfixed on cnn.com and CNN radio on Sirius and abcnews.com and whatever streaming coverage of the inauguration I could get. Because I'm a news addict like that. So rather than trying to pretend I was concentrating on work, I just took the leave time. It was worth it.
I watched the inauguration festivities with intense pride for my country. The sight of all of those people gathered on the National Mall was awe-inspiring--the fact that there were no reports of mayhem or tragedy even moreso. I mean, seriously, when is the last time you heard of over one and a half million people coming together and LIKING EACH OTHER, in spite of the cold and discomfort of standing outside in a giant crowd for hours? I am impressed, America.
Watching the calm on our new President's face as he walked out for the ceremony to begin, I couldn't help but try to imagine what he was thinking... what must it feel like to have so many people looking up to you that way--both literally and figuratively? It is a huge weight, and yet he handles each appearance with grace and humility. His inaugural speech was moving. I am excited to see if people really listen, and really start caring about each other in a new way. I am hopeful it will happen, even if it happens a little more slowly than we'd like.
When the President and his wife got out of their limo to walk a few blocks during the parade, I was terrified. I worried that some rogue crazy person would come out of nowhere and try to assassinate him or his wife. With my heart beating a little faster than normal in my chest, I had a realization about this man. By stepping out of that car and into the open, he was demonstrating that he believes in our country, that he believes that we are good people, that he has faith that people will do the right thing. And I thought, "I should have as much faith in my fellow man as this guy does." And man, what an awesome lesson from our President just a few hours into his presidency. One must certainly act with caution, but ultimately we have to trust that those around us will do the right thing, and we can't let being afraid of what could happen prevent us from doing what we believe is right.
I love the fact that now there is another example that anyone can be anything in this country. I saw an interview with one African-American kid where they asked him what our new president means to him. His response was that all of his friends used to say "When I grow up, I want to be a rapper" or "When I grow up, I want to play sports," and now they say, "When I grow up, I want to be president." Yes, people. YES! You can be anything you want to be. Our new president has proven that any limitations that you thought were there can be overcome with hard work and determination. (And I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my mom and dad who ALWAYS told me I could be anything I wanted to be!)
The cap to the evening was seeing how in love the President and First Lady looked during their first dance, and then seeing them dancing with regular ol' peeps at the Neighborhood Ball! I am jealous of the girl that was doing the bump with the President! :) I just love that they are really good people, who have a good time and enjoy their lives, but also know when it's time to take care of business. They are exactly the type of role models we need.
Also, can I just tell you how much I *love* Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer? And all of the ABC News team for that matter? When Charlie delivers the news, you can tell he is moved or concerned or excited... that he really and truly loves people and cares about what happens in the world. Same goes for Diane and Robin Roberts. I just don't get the same emotional connection from any other news team, and if you know me, you know that I like a good emotional connection, even if it's with a stranger. :)
The atmosphere in the United States is electric, and I am fiercely proud to be an American. I can't wait to see how we stand up to the challenges facing our country right now. I think we just might surprise ourselves--in a good way!