Last night I was holding my baby daughter in my arms, watching the concession speech of an old war horse, and the acceptance speech of our new President. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have at least a lump in my throat for most of it all.
John McCain spoke well. If he had spoken that well and stayed away from the petty attacks,(and not chosen Palin) it might have been a different outcome.
President Elect Obama spoke well also. But no shock there. He has always been eloquent.
As he spoke of this being only the beginning step in the future of our country, I was reminded of a memory from my own past.
April 10th, 1992. That morning I was in a squad bay with about eight other guys. We had been whittled down from over a hundred over the course of thirteen weeks of what some might call 'intensive training'. We were dressed in our blues, at attention in front of our racks (beds) one last time before the graduation. Our drill instructors were going down the line and inspecting us one last time. As they reached me, the senior drill instructor looked me over with his hyper-critical eyes, straightened my cover (hat) almost imperceptibly and simply muttered "good".
With that the two junior instructors stepped forward and added the final touch to my uniform. Two golden EGA's to my collar. An EGA is an Eagle, Globe and Anchor. The badge of the US Marine. They had impressed upon us many a time that we would not wear them until we were ready to be Marines.
Cut forward a couple hours. Graduation had ended. Mom and Dad didn't recognize me even as I walked toward them from the sea of blue. I had lost weight, gained bearing. Become more of an adult. I introduced them to one of my DI's. A Staff Sergent Crampton. He greeted my folks cordially, actually praised my performance just a hint. Then turned to me and said these words...
"This is only the beginning. You've earned this. Earned the title of Marine. Now you've got some years ahead to do something with it."
Barack Obama will be our 44th President. That much is clear. He's got huge challenges in front of him. He's earned the title, we've given him the keys - as it were. Now let's see what he can do with it.
I'm hoping for an administration that brings our fractured political world together some. Gets rid of the waste of Washington and actually makes this country great again. I'm hoping for an end to the Iraq fiasco. A true hunting of Bin Laden. A more stable economy. More employment and opportunity for our citizens.
I'm hoping he is able to stick with his tax plan as much as possible. And if I were bringing in $250K, I'd happily "pay a little extra" as John McCain said. (though not in this campaign)
There's an obscure Disney musical called "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band". Among the strange plot lines, and somewhat central to the theme, is the presidential race between Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. At the end of the film, the Buddy Epson character makes a speech to the two fighting political sides.
He says that although there is great disappointment, that it was time to put aside differences and try to work together for a better future. Somewhat how Obama's speech went last night, and McCain's as well.
I know there will be those out there with bad feelings about the results. So to them I offer two things.
1) I survived the past eight years with a President I did not want. I gave him the benefit of the doubt at first, and was even somewhat encouraged directly after 9/11 that he would bring our country together. Of course, history has proven that he did otherwise.
2) You'll survive this administration also. You may not agree with everything he says or does. But try giving him the benefit of some time to see what he can do in there. I promise that if he does terrible, I'll help vote him out of the position he now holds. But he will only do great if he has at least the respectful tolerance of those who didn't vote for him.
Of course, judging by the "boo's" heard at the McCain speech, there will be some "Americans" who will just be bitter and angry for the next four to eight years. But as my friend Sarah the soon to be Paramedic said to me once, "Being bitter towards someone is like swallowing poison then waiting for that other person to die."
So. Good luck and Godspeed to Obama and his administration.