November 6, 2008

My Future, My Hope

Haiku Friday

Obama accepts
A nightmare begins to end
Only one word: HOPE

November 6, 2008

Dear Sam,

What an amazing week this has been.  In the midst of what has been a difficult year for our family, something wonderful and historical and inspiring has happened.  In a time of hardship and difficulty for so many people around us, we have been given something we all needed - hope.

You are 2 1/2 years old, and most likely too young to remember this time.  You won't remember Tuesday November 4.  You won't remember going to the courthouse in the afternoon to get a replacement ballot so that I could vote.  You won't remember running around, squealing and playing while I filled it out.  You won't remember how we handed you the ballot so that you could slip it into the collection box.  You won't remember running around your Grandma's house while election results flashed on the TV.  You won't remember me hugging you as tears streamed down my face, and you probably didn't even notice that I was crying.  Over the next few years, you will grow older and you will learn to recognize the face of our country, and the voice of our new leader.  You will know Barack Obama as the first president you remember, and his leadership will be a way of life that I hope will continue as you grow up.

But right now, you are too small to know what and incredible thing has happened.  Because you're too young to remember, I want to give you my memories of that day.  You will read about it in the history books when you're in high school.  You will learn about the day that America elected it's first African American President, but I want you to know what it felt like that day.

It felt amazing.  Our country is young, less than 250 years old.  In the grand scheme of things, it's just a baby.  To think that in only 150 years we have gone from a time when Obama and his family would have been owned by other people to a time when a young black man can grow up to lead his country into tomorrow.  I feel so proud that it brings me to tears.  I am proud of the people in this country for standing up for what's right.  For standing up for what they believe, for reminding politicians that our system CAN work.  Our votes DO count.  They count in a big way.  Barack Obama's campaign slogan was 'Yes, we can' and on Tuesday we proved him right.

Four years ago, we stayed up into the night, anxiously awaiting election results, feeling more and more sad and angry every minute.  The numbers went back and forth, up and down.  We thought for sure that President Bush had been voted out.  We were sure that this time, the voting machines would work, and that something great would happen.  Four years ago, the leadership of our country was not elected by popular vote.  It was taken over by a president who has run our country into the ground, taken our citizens into a horrible, seemingly endless war, and allowed corporations to dictate what is 'best' for our country.  Four years ago, your father and I lost hope.  We lost faith in the system that is supposed to allow us to take part in the policy and atmosphere of the world we live in.  We stopped believing that we could make a difference.

Two days ago, we didn't have to wait.  As soon as the polls closed on the west coast at 8:00, all the news channels announced it.  Barack Obama was the next President of the United States of America.  Instead of watching numbers so close (Kerry 252 Electoral Votes, Bush 286 Electoral Votes) that the election was decided by ONE state (Ohio), we watched Obama's numbers climb and climb until the tally was 364 for Obama versus 173 for John McCain.  Two days ago, we let our guards down.  We didn't spend hours waiting to find out who won, instead we knew before it was over.  An hour later, our next President, Barack Obama took the stage to speak to us.  Here is my favorite part of his speech, which represents the hope and amazement I feel today at our country's progress:

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.  

We were headed home before 10 PM, and as we got in the car, I asked your Dad to drive through downtown Bellingham even though you were tired and fussy and ready to go home.  As we approached the heart of our town, we started to see people.  Young people, walking, talking, excited, celebrating, cheering.  There were people with signs.  We honked the horn, our grins so wide our cheeks hurt.  At a stoplight, we shouted a greeting to a young man on the corner with an Obama sign, and he ran over and high fived your Dad.  There were people on bikes with signs.  And there was something in the air, something jubilant, something wonderful - it was HOPE.

I wanted this change for you, Sam.  I know that this is the beginning of a movement that will change the world.  You will have the opportunity to grow up in a world better than the one that you were born into two years ago.  By the time you are old enough to read and understand this, I hope that you won't even understand why electing Barack Obama was a big deal.  I hope that you will grow up not to see race or sexual orientation, but just to see the amazing people who surround you.  I have hope again, I have hope that this is the beginning of the world I want for my family, for you.

Sam, I hope that one day you will get to feel what I felt on Tuesday.  I hope that you will get to feel what it is like to be part of history, to be part of a moment that changes the world for the better.  I hope that you'll get the chance to raise your voice and tell the bad guys that they DON'T win, that you and your friends and neighbors want better for this world and you are going to make it happen whether they like it or not.

I love you Sam, and I can't wait for you to grow up so you can have your own hope, and change the world in your own way.

Momma

51 comments:

J D EveryHope said...

Dear Sam,

I'm a bit younger than your mom, so this was the first time I've been able to vote in a presidential election. I grew up in a world where I believed, with all of my heart, that no one could make a difference. I protested against the Iraq war, one among many in the largest protests that have ever taken place, world-wide, and nothing happened. No one listened. I grew up with this war, and I watched the world fall into pieces. I saw Homeland Security fly past our small, peaceful town with their black helicopters. I saw the Canadian border closed and backlogged for no clear reason. I was searched whenever I flew from one end of the continent to the other, and I watched as the list of prohibited objects became greater and greater. When I traveled abroad, I met contempt and derision for the United States. I had to constantly apologize for happening to grow up where I did. I watched the rich become richer, as my friends were turned down for student loans and unable to go to college, as the polar ice caps melted, as the seasons changed because of global warming. But most of all, I believed that these politicians didn't care, that they were willing to steal the election, to cheat and to lie, simply to enrich themselves. Every bribery scandal, every swing state with badly designed ballot boxes, every bill that was pushed through with added "incentives" for the lobbyists, all of it--the world felt like it was collapsing beneath the weight of a selfish few. This is a special kind of fear. It isolates you from your country, your friends, your own will to act.

Now I know the world isn't like that. I saw democracy work as it is meant to work. I held my friends and cried that night, listening to Barack Obama's speech in Chicago. For the first time in my life, I was proud to be an American.

I'm not sure what that means, really. I'm not sure how many of these things Obama, our new President Elect, will be able to change. But I believe he will try. I believe he cares.

This means we are not alone. This means we can act. This means we can change the world. Now, together. This what hope is.

Love from your aunt,

Jemma EveryHope

maggie's mind said...

Tears stream down my face reading this as I remember Tuesday night, too. In fact, even on Wednesday, more than once throughout the day I actually stopped and sobbed, shoulders heaving, so touched, so moved, so full of hope, so overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I'd just been witness to and been a part of. I voted. Even McCain's concession speech inspired me because he was so gracious. All around, I feel hope. Even when the gay community suffered such astounding blows on the same night that we made such progress as a nation in another area. Yet, still, I hope because of what America just did. Your post brings it all back, and I could go on feeling this way forever because it feels so good. And it feels like a bit of relief in the middle of scary times that will likely get worse before better. Still, there is hope.

Long winded, sorry, just re-inspired. :)

Trish said...

What you wrote to Sam was just so beautiful. I hope, too, that when he's old enough to understand, he won't see why it was such a big deal that Barack Obama was elected.

This was the first year I could vote in a presidential election. Last time, I was a year too young and had to sit by helplessly while our bum of a "president" got to go back to the White House. But no more. I can't wait for January 20th. I'll be so giddy to see Obama inaugurated. I think it'll be one of the best things to ever happen in this country. *squee!*

Marshmallow Circus said...

I have had two, two year olds during this time. I still have the pictures we took in front of the voting booth on my fridge!

Helen McGinn said...

Wow. Powerful stuff. It's lovely to meet you.
Helen xx

Yaya said...

I'm sure your son will be so touched by this letter when he is older!

Becky said...

Wow. What an awesome idea and such a gorgeous letter to Sam.
You certainly have a way with words.

meandtheblueskies said...

What a powerful letter you wrote to your son. The election of Obama brought us the hope of change in a world that seemed destined to make the same mistakes over and over again. Here's to a hopeful and triumphant Obama legacy. Enjoy your SITS day!

cat said...

Happy SITS day - all the way from Africa. Ironic - in South Africa Barack Obama would be too "white" to be considered for president. Weird world we live in I tell you. I find him very charismatic.

Robbie S. Redmon, LPC said...

What a wonderful diary entry for Sam. As a child, James Brown taught me to stand up and be proud of my beautiful black skin. As an adult, President Barack Obama has allowed me to stand up and be a proud American. Today, I can truly say, I am a proud Black American.
Thanks so much for this post. It brought tears to my eyes. We are an amazing people. It's so good to have someone in office who knows that and appreciates us, and respects us a people. Oh, my goodness. There go the tears again. I really needed to revisit these emotions. Thank you so much.

Creative Junkie said...

I will never forget that day either.

You've given your child a remarkable gift with this post.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Happy SITS Day...

Mighty M said...

What a great letter for Sam!! You will both enjoy rereading this when he gets older!!

Laura said...

Happy SITS!

The Mrs. said...

So beautiful! You were smart to document that monumental day for Sam.

Karen MEG said...

What a wonderful idea to write a letter to your little guy about this historic moment! He will treasure it!

Michelle said...

Yes, it was an eventful day. One not soon forgotten.

Do you know what's going on in our country now? Do you still believe he is the hope we all seek?

Little Miss Baker said...

what a great post wow. I had goosebumps reading it. Especially the part about Ann Nixon Cooper. I wasn't allowed to vote because I am Canadian but what an amazing day and time for Americans. I know Sam will love this :)

Christy said...

What a wonderful letter. I have tears in my eyes after reading it. Happy SITS Day!

Reluctant Housewife said...

Wonderful! He'll love reading this when he gets older.

Marrdy said...

Great post! I know my children will remember this past year and tell their children about it.

Mira is triplet crown said...

Got me all teared up. What a great experience to be in the middle of it. But it was a happy night for most no matter where you lived and sat as the results were announced. Great idea for a gift for your kid.

Cammie said...

what a wonderful way to save that awesome day in history for your son!

Lani said...

What a great, great letter to be able to show your child in the future.
Happy Sits Day

Mountain Mama said...

It is amazing. It's now eight month's after the fact and I'm still excited to see what else we can do, as a country.

aforestfrolic said...

Amazing isn't it...150 years!

Jamie :)

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

so lovely - you made me remember how I was feeling that amazing day!

Holly Noelle said...

Chills!

Thanks for helping me relive that night that he was elected. I still believe in him and I wait patiently for him to succeed in bringing more change. I trust him to do it, despite the impatience that seems to be taking hold of many of his supporters.

Renni said...

Happy SITS day! This was the first year I was old enough to vote. I was so excited! When he won my best friend and I jumped and yelled. I called people .I felt like my vote counted and I had made a difference.

Renni

Martha said...

Wonderful post. Sam is a lucky young man. Visiting from SITS.

Monica said...

Such powerful writing, I actually got goosebumps reading it! We had a viewing party at our place that night, and my fiance who is mixed like Obama sat quietly as we heard the results. His only words "I finally fit in".

Such a great letter to your son! Happy SITS day too.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

such a wonderful post! Reading it and his speech brings a lump to my throat!!

Sharon and Billy Blanks Jr. said...

Dear Sam,
I hope when you are older you will know how much your mom rocks! How smart she was to write you this letter and mention Agnes Nixon Cooper (who also caught my attention during that time). Most of all I hope you will know in your heart how much she loves you.
Love,
Sharon Catherine Blanks

B.o.B. said...

Your letter gave me goosebumps. Yes we can and yes we did!

Mel said...

What a wonderful memory for your child to hold onto when he gets older....he'll be able to remember through your words.

Pricilla said...

Happy SITS day.
What a lovely post for your child to have.

The Redhead Riter said...

Happy SITS day!

Kris said...

Happy SITS day...this is a very powerful letter/post...thanks for sharing

Days of Whine & Noses said...

Happy SITS Day!

Mama Mair said...

Great post. I'm a Canadian know that hope has been restored with Obama leading America. Great way to get the little ones interested in politics. Very important.
Congrats on your day at SITS!

greedygrace said...

Beautiful letter.... and beautiful haiku, too!

Jeannie Finelli, RN said...

A priceless letter.

Rbarakat said...

Great idea for your son!

Vickie said...

Fantastic letter. I am still happy that Obama is here. He will change things around. Anything is better than Bush.

MochaTrina said...

I am moved to tears by your letter to your son. My kids are old enough to know what happened on November 4, 2008 (my birthday...the best birthday gift ever!) and they were just as enthusiastic as I was. I remember we were running through the house yelling and screaming every time the results flashed across the screen. I hope my children carry that memory with them always. I know I will.

Robbie S. Redmon, LPC said...

Rachael, I was so blessed by your letter to Sam, I posted about it today and linked it back to your site. I used your picture. If you have problems with this, just let me know and I will take it down.

Zeemaid said...

what an incredible post. it brought tears to my eyes. Even as Canadians we rejoiced with the U.S. and the monumental history that was in the making as if it was our own.

Thank you for putting that into words, it will be truly memorable for your son to read one day!

the planet of janet said...

nicely put. we all hope ...

Charmaine @ randalswife said...

I don't like Obama, and I don't think his policies bring hope to our country, but appreciate that our country has come a long way in their prejudices and tolerance and I think that's a wonderful thing. Mostly I think that beautiful letters like this to our children about things we are passionate about bring the most hope and change. Thank you.

Serenity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Serenity said...

Dear Sam:

The day Barack Obama was elected president was my 40th birtday. His becoming president was the best present I have ever received in my life.

I still believe him in, in hope and in change. I just hope when you come of age, you will too. But reading about your parents, I definitely believe you will, bcause they will instill those good values in you.