There are several times in my life when I was so moved to be an American, the last one being when Michael came home from Egypt, but last night and this morning, I thought my heart would burst out of my chest and the tears that ran were red, white and blue.
Putting party loyalty aside, we watched the State of the Union. Something that I was raised watching. My parents voraciously read newspapers, watched the local and national news and had me reading newspapers when I was in first grade. It was a way of life. Every election year we watched both Republican and Democrat Conventions because to ask to change the channel to one of the other 2 that we had was fruitless, both because it would be met with a resounding NO and all 3 channels in the early 60's all carried the Convention.
And then John Kennedy was assassinated 11/22/63 on a Friday. They told us at school shortly before we left to board the buses. I came home to find my mom in tears and told that my dad was on his way home from work
UNHEARD OF BEFORE 6 P.M.
UNHEARD OF BEFORE 6 P.M.
and that my dance classes had been cancelled for that night.
In that day, Carol and I LIVED to be with each other morning, noon and night as well as all weekends but I just felt like this wasn't the time to leave my house and intrude into someone else's. It was like a part of my immediate family had died.
We never left the TV set until after the funeral. School was closed. We had just gotten a new COLOR TV and Mom had Carol and her family over to watch the coverage. Somehow food got fixed those days to feed us all but no one left the house except to check on their dogs.
I personally grieved for JFK. He was my first President that I remember. I got to know his kids Caroline and John-John. I cried when Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died at birth. They were part of our family.
Took a long time to get past that and I never really got into any particular President again. Of course I watched the Johnson girls' weddings with my mom and kept track of their beagles, Him and Her. I nearly died when President Johnson picked one of them up by the ears.
Until Bill Clinton ran.
I was working at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL and Hilary Clinton was going to make a speech on campus on a Saturday. Kiereney was small, maybe 4, and we had a standard shopping date every Saturday after house cleaning was done. The mall was in Carbondale so we stopped by SIU on the way and we walked over to where we saw a small group of people. Hilary had long hair then, even longer than it is now (which should be CUT, IMHO) and when she was done speaking she came up to us to shake my hand and talk to Kiereney. She said she had a daughter named Chelsea and we compared child rearing notes. I didn't think too much more about it and went on to the mall.
When the ex's grandmother died a few months later, the funeral was in middle Illinois and on the way back we saw a BIG BUS with CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT on it. We realized that was their campaign bus and started talking about when Kiereney and I met Hilary.
I started tracking the polls and when Bill Clinton was elected, I felt like family again!
Then my life got busy, the divorce happened and I quit tracking the political scene.
Until the convention when Barack Obama spoke.
He was just a speaker but he captured my attention. I remember saying to Roger that someday he would be our President and the thought of an African American being elected President seemed as far fetched as living on Mars. I was not raised to be a racist. I think any American should be able to run for and be President regardless of color or sex or sexual preference.
And then Barack Obama was elected and gave his acceptance speech in MY state in Chicago (SO WANTED TO BE THERE!!!)and had his daughters with them on the platform and I remembered the Kennedy years of days gone by. Martin Luther King died shortly after my mother did and watching his funeral about did me in. Mom liked him. I remember the I Have A Dream speech like it was yesterday. I was all about MLK and now MLK would be beaming from Heaven because Mr. Obama would be the first African American President in history.
I believe change was in the air. He seemed sincere, caring about the USA and wanted to do his part.
And my life went on until Gabriella Giffords was shot last January.
Again, I was glued to the TV set.
Another shooting in a political setting.
Whisked back to 1963.
The President went to Arizona to see her at the hospital shortly thereafter and to attend the memorial service for the other victims, and that was the day that she moved her hand or gave a sign that she was making a comeback. I was touched that he took time out of his schedule to visit Gabby.
And when Gabby made it to the Capitol last August to vote on something important to her, I cried.
When Gabby came into the Capitol last night, I cried some more.
And when Gabby turned in her resignation to the Speaker of the House, I bawled.
What a gift she has been to us!
Her strength, drive, determination to conquer what was thrown at her.
And before the State of the Union speech, the President came into the room and went to Gabby and it had to be the best hug ever for the both of them and I cried those red, white and blue tears.
That's what it's all about, kids. Caring about each other despite our political differences. At the end of the day, agreeing to disagree and then regrouping and finding a solution that both sides can live with.
The President's speech last night quieted my heart and made me hope again that soldiers will come home from wars and we would all survive. Like Robert Fulgrum said in his book "All I Needed to Know In Life I Learned in Kindergarten", "We just need to hold hands and stick together."
Ah, those red, white and blue tears are coming again and my heart is beating like a snare drum.
Land of the free
Home of the brave
And we're all in this together.
I could have had a love feast in the Capitol last night, even with John Boehner, who I truly dislike for his attitude. I would have hugged John and told him that we will all get through this.
And this morning I probably would have grabbed the Clorox when I took my shower to kill the cooties!
But then Gabby was making her way into the Capitol to resign and the red, white and blue good-all-overs struck again.
We're all in this together, kids.
All of us.
And I BELIEVE we're gonna make it after all.
Pardon the ramblings of an emotionally charged woman. This post has written itself and I looked down to see my fingers flying across the keyboard.
I hope it makes sense.
It does to me through my red, white and blue colored lenses.