Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20

This weekend has been filled with lots of things about Barack Obama. Even a short piece on why the spell checkers complain about his name. The blog one thinks it should be Ba rack Obadiah. Seems like someone should be able to fix this.

As I listened to a lot of the Obama things I kept running into stories or people talking about what this day meant to them. These stories kept causing a lump in my throat. I realized that the sense of hope in me is very strong. It is really great to feel this way. I am old enough to know that it won't last forever, but damn, it feels good right now.

I know people who hate Obama. I choose to ignore these people. I can do this because they are marginalized right now. I know people who do not feel this sense of hope. These people are sadder to think about. These people are missing something profound that is happening in this country. They may have lots of really good reasons for holding back, but I can't help feeling that they are missing a rare opportunity to believe in something. It may never happen again in my life time.

Today we broadcast the inauguration in the auditorium. My school has a junior high in the building also. The auditorium had 500 kids from 5th to 12th grade. When Joe Biden took the oath they cheered. When Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman were anounced the kids fidgeted, but then listened. When Barack Obama took the oath they went crazy. When he spoke there was not a sound in the auditorium except for applause a few times and boos when he mentioned Bush. I do not think I have ever been in a high school auditorium this quiet or this attentive.

Last week I was in a lab and a black boy was walking by with his pants below his ass. I mentioned to him that Obama had said he didn't want to see this any more. The kid pulled his pants up. I feel a change is happening. I feel different today than I did yesterday. I have hope.

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Oh, my. You caught the temperature of the nation and the teachable-moment feel of Inauguration Day at school. I am a substitute teacher. On that particular day, I was in a third grade classroom of a culturally diverse school. All classes halted what they were doing at about 9:45 a.m. to watch President Obama's swearing-in ceremony and hear his speech. I felt a catch in my throat when all the people on the mall stood for Obama and all the students in my room leapt to their feet.

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