Monday, February 16, 2009

President's Day: Inauguration Flashback

I've been itching to write my post about the inauguration but been short on time. So I'm taking President's Day as an opportunity to celebrate our current President.

My school watched the Inauguration in the gym; our tech folks projected ABC's coverage onto a big screen. My 7th graders were besides themselves with excitement, as they have been since the days leading up to the election. I was pretty giddy myself and everyone in the city seemed extra-happy as well. Everyone was decked out in their Obama-wear (I wore my "Another Mama for Obama" shirt). There was pizza and black-and-white cookies for all (yes, those were ordered intentionally). Jo was downstairs with me -- he goes to daycare at my school and everyone was in the gym, including the daycare babes and their providers -- so he sat in my lap, watched Obama and ate some pizza too.

We watched coverage starting with the invocation* and through Obama's speech (which one of my kids summarized brilliantly in his journal later that week). The first time the camera flashed spontaneously to Obama the whole gym erupted in cheers. Then the picture was left on but the sound turned down, and as a community we sang "This Land Is Your Land."

It was truly the most patriotic day of my life. I come from a family with a healthy suspicion of the American flag (all the flag-waving after 9/11 made me very nervous) but for the first time, I actually wanted to stand for the national anthem. I jumped to my feet when asked to stand for the swearing in of Vice-President Biden.

No, I did not get through all this without crying, and neither did many of my students. I found myself tearing up all through the day and quite a few days afterward as the reality of this historical moment kept sinking in. At a staff meeting in a sixth grade teacher's room there on the wall was one of those Junior Scholastic charts of the presidents on the wall... and there was Obama, number 44. It is absolutely overwhelming.

And almost every day President Obama (!) does something else to make me proud to be an American. Truly words I have never written, nor thought, before this administration.

Here's Jo on Inauguaration Day (click on the photo to see notes):
Inauguration Day

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*I'm making this a footnote because the invocation did not ruin the proceedings for me, but oh my goodness, did it suck, and I have to comment. I've never watched an inauguration before (see previous comments about patriotism in my family) so I actually assume that nonsense is par for the course. It was just so awful: I know R.W. is a big homophobe so it was miserable to hear his remarks about inclusivity and want to shove them where the sun don't shine. But perhaps more egregious was sitting in my public school, watching a government event, and hearing the Lord's Prayer. It makes me really sad to realize that separation of church and state is a total myth. I believe in it.