It hasn't felt like this since September of 2001, a brief time when Americans were bonded to each other again. 2001 felt like the 1950's, but in a good way. Knowing we had been vilely attacked, we welcomed the revival of patriotic songs, especially "God Bless America" at ballgames, and we started to sport red-white-and-blue lapel pins. I wore one on my tuxedo in November of that year, and saw that my fashion statement was repeated by nearly every American man at the Washington wedding I attended. I also recall standing while stern faced Boy Scouts presented the colors at an educators' conference in Monterey. How many decades had it been since I'd last witnessed such a ceremony?
We Baby Boomers grew cynical about patriotism back during the Viet Nam war, when we first discovered "the credibility gap" under Lyndon Johnson, and then had our doubts reconfirmed by Nixon and Watergate. But 9/11 briefly restored us as we discovered how good it feels to be proud of one's country--only to have our hopes dashed on the rocks by Bush's opportunistic rush to war in Iraq.
Thank heaven, the story is not over. Now we are gathering together again to inaugurate a new president, and we hope, a new era. I wish I could have been at the concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial: Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks--I would have liked to have seen that.
The slanders against Obama--that he's not a Christian, that he's not a natural citizen, that he doesn't love his country--have subsided, drowned out by the non-partisan roar that hails him as a president uniquely gifted to sort through the muddle of our times and to restore our honor in the eyes of the rest of the world. We unite in giving him our support. It feels very, very good to be a proud American again.
I've finished writing and am headed to my dresser to find that lapel pin.