Day that changed American history

Published 8:04 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

When I think about these past few days, it seems like a blur. The inauguration of the first African American president of the United States came and went quickly.

Standing in a sea of a record breaking 1.5 million joyous and peaceful spectators, I didn’t really have a chance to ponder. But now, taking a moment to look back, I have mixed emotions. I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to witness a person whose ancestors were not even considered human rise to a position of such importance to so many people, all kinds of people.

On the flip side, I feel like my luck belongs to those who gave their blood, sweat and tears to bring African Americans to this point. Those like the slaves and civil rights protestors. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an influential and hardworking figure who helped bring equality among blacks and whites.

However, I also understand that if it were not for the average citizens working together, the events that happened on Tuesday, January 20th may have never come.

After talking to the group of senior citizens from Bertie and Hertford County who took a bus trip to the inauguration in Washington, D.C., I was left with a rude awakening. Their stories of struggle, faith, and perseverance were moving.

To be able to continually and serenely rise during their hardships reminded me as a young woman that I have far too many blessings to count. I almost felt as if they had more of a right to be there. I am just happy for them that they were there.

I also hope that the recent increase of the youth’s involvement and attention to public policy and to what is happening around the world does not stop after President Barack Obama’s inaugural address.

Many saw the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States as an opportunity to be a part of history and witness it first hand, but it was so much more for me. I owed my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and even my deceased brother to be present in downtown Washington on that day.

They could not stand at the National Mall in the flesh, but they were there in spirit with me as their relative. I thank them, because without them, I might not have been so lucky.