We all came together as Americans

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Today’s problems cannot be solved if we still think the way we thought when we created them.”

— Albert Einstein

All my life, my friends and family have known each inaugural year they must figure on leaving me alone Jan. 20. If the press will bring it to me, I will absorb it. I have been a sort of political junkie all my life.

There have been inaugurations that left me wanting more, but each inaugural of my life has been worth soaking up. This year was so momentous and so incredible I stayed glued to one spot as history unfolded.

My very earliest memory in life is sitting with my father as we watched the John F. Kennedy funeral ceremony. I recall sensing the enormity of the event because my dad never came in the house to watch television during the day.

Thirst

I also realized something was very much amiss in the world because it was the only time I had seen my father shed tears. I was only 3 1/2 years old in November 1963, but amazingly, I do remember it. I recall my father standing up from his chair and saying, “Ah, I just can’t take any more,” and going back out to the barn. From that moment on, I had a thirst to know more about our political leaders and how our world worked.

It was a tumultuous time in which to grow up and there were times I remember wishing I didn’t care quite so much. I became the strange little kid who clipped news stories of political happenings. I felt certain Bobby Kennedy was the next leader of the free world, and I embraced everything Bobby. I carefully cut out pictures of Bobby Kennedy and kept them in my bedroom with other news clippings that seemed of great importance to me.

I remember studying one clipping that described Negro citizens as counting as three-fifths of a person. I did not for the life of me understand or fully comprehend at all how this could be true. I had been taught in Sunday school that “red or yellow, black or white, all are precious in His sight,” and this three-fifths of a human idea seemed to go against what I had been told by those I respected.

Sad realization

I remember the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. with a sad realization. People could be brought down in the prime of their life by those who carried hatred to such extremes that they felt compelled to act violently upon it.

I still held on to the hope our next president would somehow right those wrongs. I remember watching the news with my father when the rambunctious crowd greeted Bobby Kennedy with such cheering and adoration my father mumbled, “They need to be quiet and let him speak.”

It is indelibly etched in my memory the morning I was awakened with the horrible news Bobby Kennedy had been shot, but was still clinging to life. I got down on the floor beside my bed and prayed with fervor, feeling certain this prayer would be heard and this man would prevail. It was not to be, and our American history shifted. I had learned to bear a lot of sorrow and I was not yet even 10 years old.

Inauguration 2009

It seems we fast-forwarded to an incomprehensible moment in time from those days of my youth to Inauguration 2009. No matter how we voted, we all came together as Americans to watch a new president sworn in, a bi-racial man who acknowledges he has “no pedigree,” and we are blessed to live in a country where power is passed peacefully, democratically, ceremoniously.

It is also incredible to me to note the entire world watches and cares deeply about this changing landscape. If we lived in a perfect world, there would be no need for such change. Because we do not, and because we can never hope for such perfection on this Earth, this is the next best way of dealing with our desperate need to once again start over.

President Barack Obama is now the leader of the free world. It seems nearly impossible a boy who was raised in modest means in this country could reach such heights, regardless of his ethnicity. It is an incredible and even mind-boggling accomplishment in this world of enormous wealth and connections helping to push people in to places of leadership and authority.

Times are challenging

We stand at a time in U.S. history in which things could not be more bleak, more challenging. Some will criticize Obama for being too open-minded, too liberal-minded, too far-reaching.

We need to remember the change of power harkens back to the words of Albert Einstein. Sometimes we simply must change the way we view possible solutions if we hope to change our course.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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