I woke up this morning and my first thought was, “Boy, my president has a really funny name.”
You always like your president to have a solid, simple decidedly strong name reminiscent of John Wayne. You want him to be a John or Tom or Steve. Even the name George fits this bill. Certainly never in my wildest imagination did I ever think the American president would be named something like Barack Obama.
But here we are and I’m estatic.
I had one tiny surprise along the way. The moment when I closed the door of the mailbox to send my absentee ballot racing up Highway 49 from Louisiana a thought came from nowhere and startled me. I thought of John F Kennedy. When November 22 arrives this year it will be 45 years since he was killed. I was in high school. Ever since we’ve been waiting for someone to finish out his term of office.
I was startled at this thought. I had never thought of having unfinished business but it may have been in the back of my mind for all these years. We’ve been waiting for someone young and vibrant who will speak to us in plain language. Someone who will reach out to the world and be a partner to other countries. Finally, the other shoe has dropped.
I could go on but it’s early and I still have a few more cups of coffee to go. And I know a lot of my friends won’t wake up happy this morning. My Jewish friend, Nancy2 (see August 5th posting) never came around to voting for him. The Muslim thing was just too real in her mind and she voted Republican for the first time in her life.
But my young friend Colleen who is going back to the AmeriCorps in a couple of months will get to serve under a President who values her service. I am thrilled for her. There was a young kid in Thailand who told the television reporter that we have “our first global president.” Most of my European travel has been in the last eight years and I saw the grafitti first-hand. We became more and more unpopular around the world with Bush’s egocentric attitude.
One of the things that made this campaign different was the use of cyberspace. After I got my Obama bumper sticker I found myself on the mailing list. Then I was offered the chance to get the VP selection news first and fast. So I sent in my cell phone number and permission to receive text messages. Naturally, I’ve been getting texts periodically over the last couple of months. It was kind of cool to look at my phone and see I had a message from Michelle or Barack or Joe. Kind of like we were close buddies. I'm not stupid enough to deny this was just another campaign tool. But this morning I got one purportedly from Barack Obama himself that said in part:
“We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.”
Could it be that simple? Our government sending me a text to invite me to join in the work of our country?
I remember the Sunday I sat in the pew at the Greater Mt. Zion AME Church in Pearlington, Mississippi. We sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and at the end of the sermon the preacher held high the latest copy of Ebony magazine with Obama on the cover with the caption asking/declaring: “In Our Lifetime.” Blacks had long been promised that we would someday have a black president but they didn’t really believe it could happen.
Today, a lot of promises are kept but there is still unfinished business before us. I can’t imagine anyone wanting this job. But this morning it looks like we just might be able to work together.
At any rate, I hope they will have a good choir sing the song sometime during the inauguration.
Lift every voice and sing,
till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the
dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
let us march on till victory is won.