Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Living History

Every one of us has been a part of history in some way or another. Through individual memories of where we were during historical moments, we share their passing with others and these moments bind us together.

My own such memories have been few and tragic. 9/11. The crash of TWA flight 800. Princess Diana's death. The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Mine are the kind of memories spoken of in hushed tones, with eyes lowered in respect for those who died. Until now.

Yes, the election of Barack Obama is meaningful in terms of the image the world holds of our country, the statement it makes about where we want America to head in this new century, and how far we've come as a nation in so short a time. But it is more than that. It is proof to my children that anything is possible, that greatness can come from anywhere and that they are on the cusp of something wonderful.

In February just last year, my son was reading about civil rights, slavery and the Underground Railroad. He's learned about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, and the impact they made on American history. He has seen how things used to be and has been taught why racism is wrong. He knows that a few decades ago, unfair laws and practices were being fought so that everyone's civil rights could be established. But until now he has not seen more.

Today, he learned more than just that it is unfair for society to keep people down because of the color of their skin. Today, he learned that our society is strong enough and open-minded enough to raise people up and follow them when they possess all those traits we hold in high regard: intelligence, strength, integrity and courage.

After 9/11, everyone said we will never be the same. Now we can say it again, but this time, say it with pride.

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