Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic Day

When I was a little girl, born at the half century mark, I remember thinking that 2000 was so far away that I surely would not be alive. Could not possibly live to be that old! I grew up in a culture still influenced by Southern customs, where our town had a section called "n-town" and my schoolmates spoke Spanish in their homes and struggled to learn to read English. We traded biscuits and warm tortillas, wrapped in foil after being freshly buttered, outside the school door on our poorly equipped playground early in the morning. Our teachers were all Caucasian, had little training in teaching reading as a second language, cross cultures, or special needs children. They did the best they could with the knowledge they had, but were totally unprepared for the changes on the horizon.

Graduating in 1968 I witnessed first hand the violent changes and difficult birth process of freedom for people of color. I honestly did not know what to think of Dr. Martin Luther King. I detested the marches and demonstrations, but wanted equal rights and thought people should just shut up and act normal all over the South, not comprehending the depths of emotions or the depth of injustice on either side. I suppose I thought everyone would just straighten up and treat each other equally if the right authority told them they had to "be nice". Yesterday I read Dr. King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail, and I was so deeply moved. How could I have ever understood unless I had watched my own children turned away from playgrounds, shops, buses, stores? MLK was a man of great intelligence, deep conviction, prophetic vision, and most of all, great, great, godly courage.

His "I have a dream" speech from the Lincoln Memorial is today completed on the other end of the National Mall on the steps of the Capitol.

Not only am I alive to see this historic event, but I have walked on the steps of both buildings. I am so blessed! Although my political views have differed greatly from those of our new President, I admire his courage in making the journey on the road laid for him by Dr. King.

Our Joy and Mike had tickets for the inauguration in the standing section, given to them by the Senator for whom she works. At 8:00 a.m. she emailed from her Blackberry that they were at a standstill in the tremendous crowd and were unable to see ahead to the problem. There they stood at 1st and D Streets, tickets in hand, for more than two hours. Whether the problem was the long lines for security or just a mass of humanity that prevented movement, when they saw a break in the crowd, they decided to cut and run. They are in a warm Senate building office watching a TV.

May God protect and give wisdom to the new President. May no weapon formed against him prosper and the fear of the Lord be the beginning of his wisdom.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

Great post. I hope they enjoyed just being THERE in the midst.

I wrote about the historic day and a little of my differing political views, as well.