In 2008, I was 25-year-old and working towards finishing my college degree at Georgia State University. I had also just voted in my first election where I had actually followed the debates and was passionate about the issues. Barack Obama was a breath of fresh air who seemed relatable and gave me hope. As I reflect on his last day in office, I remember a Journal Entry that I had written on the day of his Inauguration. Back then, I didn’t have a blog but would instead write and save Word Documents. After a quick search I found my account of that day. (Please forgive my amateur musings but I wanted to show the original entry without changes.)
“It’s A New Day. I woke to my alarm going off at 7:30 am on the morning on January 20, 2009 and jumped out of bed with more energy than usual, because I knew what an historical day lie ahead. I layered in anticipation of 36-degree weather and headed to Marta bound for Centennial Olympic Park where I had just learned the day before that the presidential inauguration would be televised live to the public.
I was worried about running late, but arrived in plenty of time find my place in line and wait for the gates to open. As I stood waiting I observed the people with their blankets and chairs and talked with many who were more than eager to share what this day meant to them. One woman was there with her two children, whom she had taken out of school so that they may share the moment together as a family.
Once the park opened and our bags were checked, I was pleased and surprised to find myself in the very front of the crowd just feet away from the big screen. The music was blaring and it took little effort for the people around me to start dancing and singing. From the moment I took my place in the crowd I was glad that I decided not to stay home. The energy was indescribable and spirits were high.
The spirits of those surrounding me never dulled, despite the cold weather, and every now and then there were chants of “Yes We Can”, or “Obama, Obama”. I began a conversation with a high school student who had skipped class to attend with her mother and eventually we were taking pictures together as if we were long, time friends.
Everyone watched in anticipation as the soon-to-be first family took their seats and I soaked up all of the faces surrounding me. A woman behind me had tears streaming down her face as the said aload, “This is awesome” and I found myself getting choked with emotion at the realization of what was about to happen.
Even though I expected the day to be emotionally charged, I was still moved by those around me. I witnessed grown men shamelessly wiping away tears and strangers joyously hugging one another. I was overwhelmed by the energy that surrounded me.
As Barack Obama stood to take the oath of office the crowd erupted and a young man screamed, ”Anything is possible.” We then all fell silent as we heard our new president swear to uphold the Constitution. It was such a powerful moment and for a second I forgot that I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes. I was transfixed on the screen before me as I watched the first black man become our 44th President of the United States of America.
I am so proud to be a part of the progression that our country has taken and look forward to what the years ahead have to bring. I revel in the fact that I can tell my nieces and nephews that they can be anything they want, no exceptions, because we live in a land that has proven so. This presidential inauguration was a “Where were you moment” and I will forever remember that I was in Atlanta, GA surrounded by thousands of strangers who didn’t feel like strangers at all.
During this period of war and economic uncertainty I truly feel that change is coming to American at a time when we need it more than ever. I cannot wait to wake up on January 21, 2009 and feel that a new day is upon us.”
Today, as we say good-bye to President Obama I am a much more cynical person. The day-to-day reality of having an African American President has been shameful. Congress worked overtime to undermine his initiatives while so many questioned his citizenship and called him and his family hateful names. The realization that President Obama will be handing over the keys to the White House to the very man who led the Birther Movement (not to mention has no experience and is by all accounts a narcissistic sociopath) saddens me in a way I cannot explain.
Did President Obama meet my every expectation? No. However, he carried himself with grace and dignity even while facing insurmountable opposition. I believe that he represented our country well and was a strong leader during difficult times. He and his family were a beautiful addition to the history books and I am so proud to have called him Mr. President.