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« ’The greatness of our nation’ | Main | Daily roundup »

January 20, 2009

The Faces

Inauguration I saved the front page of the Washington Post from November 5, 2008, because I loved the below-the-fold picture. It features African Americans at an Obama victory party looking up at a television screen as Obama goes over the top, electorally speaking. One young man is laughing with joy; an older man looks as if he doesn't quite believe his eyes; two women, both close to tears, are embracing while a smiling young man behind them is holding his hands over his ears.

When I saw the picture the day after the election, I thought: "If Norman Rockwell were alive today, and decided to paint a picture illustrating this moment in history, this is what he would have painted: Black faces, young and old, laughing and crying with joy."

I'm thinking of those faces today, and I wonder if they're somewhere downtown, along the parade route, cheering the Obamas as they slowly make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue. But I'm also thinking about other African American faces--faces of those who volunteered with me at McCain headquarters, grimly making call after call after call to get out the vote for the other candidate, who happened to be white.

A lot of people voted for Barack Obama mainly because he was black. A lot of people voted for Hillary Clinton simply because she was female. And, undoubtedly, a lot of people voted for John McCain because he was white--that is, the non-black candidate. And eight years ago, probably a lot of people voted for, or against, Al Gore because his running mate was Jewish.

I can't help feeling it's a wonderful day when a largely white country elects its first black president. But I also look forward to the day when every American votes for a candidate based on his or her views, character, and abilities, not his skin color, gender, or religion--just like those African Americans who sat beside me at McCain headquarters last fall, doing their darnedest to elect John McCain.

(Image © The Washington Post)

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Steve (SBK)

Link broken with: http//www

Gina Dalfonzo

Sorry. Try it now.

Rachel Coleman

Gina, thank you for your thoughts on this topic. Your last paragraph says it all. And take heart; your McCain campaign colleagues weren't the only minorities-within-a-minority.

My biracial kids and I watched the whole inauguration with my parents. None of the adults in our family -- including my black husband -- voted for President Obama, but my dad, an Anglo-Indian immigrant, and my mom, a German-Mennonite pastor's daughter, urged us to get together to observe this day as part of our home schooling. They said, "We've got to watch it all together because it's history!"

I am thankful my children will have memories of their (nonblack) grandparents watching this inauguration with tears streaming down their faces, thankful for the changes they've witnessed in America.

And I'm thankful we all got a chance to join in reciting the Lord's Prayer as part of the ceremony. Wasn't it amazing how Rick Warren used the name of Jesus (Isa, Yeshua, Jesus en Espanol) to *include* so many? And how he took a potentially divisive moment and turned it around by starting in on the Our Father, which literally thousands, maybe millions of Americans automatically joined in to recite, their early training overflowing aloud? You could see it on some of the faces the television camera featured: they were almost surprised to find themselves praying, but they prayed.

But my favorite part of the day was hearing my 14-year-old daughter say, "I think it's really cool we can have a black president, but I would think it was so much cooler if he was pro-life." Nonetheless, she put on a nice dress and went with us to the grandparents' to eat apple pie and enjoy being an American.

Rachel Coleman

Sorry, Anne! I saw the last tag on the post and said all those things to Gina instead of you.

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