As I watch the swearing in of Joe Biden, my thoughts wander back to the recent presidential campaign and the growing popularity (seemingly out of nowhere) of Barack Obama. Two years ago he was an obscure senator from Illinois and now he sits waiting for the moment when her will stand up, walk over to the podium, and put his hand on President Lincoln's Bible and get sworn in as our 44th President of the United States.
I watch as the cameras keep panning on the millions of people in the National Mall, and I try to imagine what it would be like to be there.
I know, because of my PTSD, that I could never be in a crowd that big without panic seizing me like a vise. I wonder what it would be like standing among that many like-minded people.
Now, as Barack repeats the oath, I watch his wife's eyes reflecting pride...then "Congradulations Mr President" and the crowd claps deleriously. People hugging and kissing. Jumping up and down for joy. Tears running down eyes that never thought they would see this day.
A sense of hope so strong that you can taste it, smell it, feel it in your pores.
Now, as Barack addresses everyone, he calmly, in his rich voice, speaks. His eyes seem to make contact with the millions before him. He appears serious, yet, a secret smile breaks through at times, as he spells out the challenges we all now face. He points out the problems we must now tackle, and the economy is mentioned first.
He tries to make us all understand that their are many challenges, but as he said, "They can be met!" You know, by the tone of his voice he means it. He speaks, not to just Americans, but to the world which is also watching this ceremonial changing of the guard. This peaceful transistion of power is something we pride ourselves in as Americans.
Cameras walk through the mass of humanity, and sometimes they settle on a face - and we see smiles or tears.
My mind wanders back to when I was growing up in the 50s and 60's and saw the ugly face of rasicm and an oppresed people. In those days, people referred to African-Americans as niggers, and other blatantly racist terms. I was familiar with descrimination as one of the few Caucasians that lived in the barrios of La Puente and El Monte. Most of my fights were because I was different. I didn't fit in those prodominately Hispanic communities.
So you see, I have a certain prospective on race that helps me understand what the blacks in this country have gone through.
Now, everyone's clapping... he waves...and waves amid the sea of sound. Then it's over. It's official. I wait for the ground to open up and Angels to sing...
but all that happens is a woman walks up to the mics and recites a poem. The spell is broken too soon. Too soon. The rhetoric sets in now...