Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My opinion on a historic day!!!!

Just a quick post, 'cuz I'm exhausted and it's way past bedtime! I was totally psyched today for the Inauguration of the President...and I watched as much as I could get away with at work (and until the network crashed!), then I came home and had an email waiting for me that really surprised me. The editor of the local paper asked me and 2 other people to write our opinions of the day for the next issue of the paper (which will be Saturday). I wrote an op-ed piece for the paper over a year ago, so I'm shocked that he even remembered me and asked, but hey! You want my opinion? You're gonna get it! And since I just finished writing it and our local paper isn't online......here's my letter:

How did I feel watching the inauguration? Mostly, I felt proud. Not just proud of Barack Obama and of the undeniably historic moment it was for him to even be standing there on that stage…..but for the hope and unity that has been instilled in the majority of this country as a whole. People, in the midst of everything that’s going on, are hopeful. They’re hopeful that better days lie ahead, and I am one of them.

I watched the inauguration via cnn.com at work, against company policy. Obviously I wasn’t the only one doing it as the network crashed near the end of the new President’s speech. But as I sat there in my cubicle and watched the coverage of the crowds gathered, I couldn’t help but be in absolute awe.

The election and inauguration of the first African-American President couldn’t possibly be expected to not have some hoopla surrounding it. But as I listened to Barack Obama during the debates last fall, and as I listened to him in his inaugural address today, I again felt a twinge of pride. He stands as a symbol that if you take your education seriously when you’re young and work hard in your career, there isn’t a door anywhere that cannot be opened to you. He wasn’t born into a politically well-connected family. He didn’t marry money or inherit it. He’s gotten to the big game on his own accord. I was proud of President Obama for that. I was proud of him for realizing the momentousness of the occasion, yet not dwelling on it. He only referred to his color briefly in his address, and I thought that spoke volumes. It said to me that while he acknowledges the fact that 60 years ago his father wouldn’t have been able to get a meal in a local restaurant and here he was becoming the President…….it also said to me that he recognizes that the color of his skin isn’t ALL he is, nor does he want to be defined that way. He may be the first African American President of the United States of America, but first and foremost, he’s EVERY American’s president now, not just those of color. He wasn’t elected just by those of color, and he knows that and fully embraces it. That makes me proud.

As I watched the President speak and watched the crowd’s reactions to his words, I felt for the first time in my adult life that I had a leader that could really understand ME and MY life in this day and age. He’s been there, and he’s done that, perhaps not on the same scale as the rest of us, but closer to my reality than presidents of recent memory. He was raised by a working mother, his wife works outside the home, and he faces the same issues all of us parents face raising our kids. He understands the needs, the hopes, and the dreams of the texting, blogging, Facebook-ing generation that is out there. He’s not completely out of touch, and that’s very refreshing to see. For what it's worth, I think they should let him keep his Blackberry!

I was glad to hear him be upfront and candid that the road ahead isn’t paved in gold and lollipops aren’t going to fall from the sky the minute he sits down in the oval office. He’s never promised us an easy-out, and for that he has my respect. We’re all grownups here and I like being given respect enough to have the truth told to me, even if it is painful to hear. I consider myself a logical person, and anyone looking logically at the current state of the economy or the military conflict overseas can tell you that there is no quick solution to either. We didn't get into either mess overnight, nor will we get out overnight. He didn't gloss over details or promise things he knows he can't deliver just to score an 'atta-boy'. I appreciate the honesty.

My favorite line of his speech was when he was talking about our enemies abroad and said this: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” I applauded silently as this is completely in line with my own views. I’d rather have a president that is willing to work with enemies and come up with peaceful solutions than one that shoots first and asks questions later. That’s just more my style, and I look forward to seeing loved ones return home where they belong.

Lastly, I felt excitement and nervousness as I watched this historic inauguration. I’m excited about what lies ahead, but reality makes me nervous. Just in the last few months I’ve had 3 friends lose their jobs, and where I work I know layoffs are coming too. My parents couldn’t pay their property taxes this past year, for the first time in 45 years. People I know personally are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. The crisis we’re facing is real, and it’s going to be a long, hard road getting out of it. But I’m pretty confident that we’ve got a guy at the helm that is intelligent enough to know what to do…and smart enough to surround himself with the right people to ask advice of when he doesn’t know what to do. And I trust him to tell us the truth about it, even if we don’t want to hear it. That’s the guy I voted for back in November. I am hopeful that things will get better.

So Congratulations, President Obama. May your history-making inauguration be only the beginning of you making history as our President. God bless you, your family, and our country.

Diana Herman

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