In the days immediately following 9/11, there was a feeling, and a display, of patriotism in this country the likes of which I had never experienced. When I would go out for a run during those first weeks, I would keep my mind occupied by counting all of the American flags I saw along my route.
The past 24 hours mark the second time in my life that I have been overwhelmed by a feeling of true pride in being an American. I had feared desperately that the political and ideological rifts that exist in this country, along with outright racism and fear of the unknown, would combine to prevent Barack Obama from becoming the 44th president.
I remember watching that asteroid movie back in the ’90s—not the Bruce Willis one; the other one—in which Morgan Freeman was cast as the president. I remember thinking how wonderful a concept that was, and how entirely unlikely it was that I would ever see such a thing happen.
I recall watching “The West Wing” during its final season and seeing Jimmy Smits portray a Latino presidential candidate—an exceptionally bright, composed, dignified man who took the high road throughout his campaign, and whose words, actions, integrity and gravitas truly inspired people, to the point that he did, in fact, become the president. I remember the sense of disappointment I would feel when an episode would end and reality would come back into focus—a reality that had left me feeling certain that seeing such a man, and a minority member at that, become our president was a fantasy that could only take place in a fictional world.
I can’t even tell you how unbelievably fortunate I feel to be alive at this time, and to see happen that which I thought was completely improbable, if not impossible.
And whereas my previous flood of patriotic feelings were brought on by an unimaginable tragedy, the catalyst this time is an unimaginable victory. It is, quite literally, a completely alien and unique sensation, and one that I am savoring as much as is humanly possible.
(Oh, and, uh, the flag in the photo? Yeah, it was hanging from the ceiling at the same place where I took this photo. The juxtaposition seems like a decent metaphor to describe the past eight years and what I hope will be a much improved future.)