Sing a Song for President Obama

"Lift every voice and sing,
'Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won."

That first verse of the Black National Anthem has been in my heart all day long. Barack Obama being sworn in as President of the United States is surely not our ultimate victory, but like it says on the White House web site, "Change has come for America."

That change feels really good to me. I feel so humbled, grateful, incredibly hopeful and so unified with you, my brothers and sisters, around a common cause.

I've been up since 3:30 am PST watching Inauguration coverage. From the first moments I was mesmerized, unable to look away from even the most minute detail taking shape before my eyes. And, even before President Barack Obama was sworn in, I had a headache from crying. I took two Advil and just embraced the fact that the tears would be flowing all day.

I decided to keep my two sons home from school because I wanted to witness such a historic moment with them. I'll never forget how all I had to say was, "Boys, it's time to watch Obama become the President," and they leaped from their beds, full of excitement.

We stood during the National Anthem, toasted each other with sparkling cider after Obama took the Oath of Office and listened while he gave his wonderful speech.

Then, after President Obama was sworn in, I filmed brief interviews with my sons. You see, I wanted to capture such a special moment with them, wanted to be able to give them something in the future that would show these sweet, noble and sincere boys exactly what they were thinking and feeling on the day Barack Obama became President of the United States.

In the interview with my seven year-old son, "O", I asked him what he thought about watching Obama getting sworn in.

His reply? "It was actually amazing."

Of course, I had to ask him why it was amazing and he shared with the biggest smile ever, "Well, because this is our first black President."

So, I asked him how that made him feel and he replied, "It makes me feel... special."

But why so special?

"Because I'm an African-American and he's an African-American and that makes me feel special."

Indeed, all through the luncheon and during the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, I kept thinking about how, in a few short hours, a black man was going to walk in the front door of the White House as the President. I kept picturing him crossing over a threshold which was laid by slaves. I got chills thinking about how a black woman was going to be living in that house, not as a maid or servant, but as the First Lady.

And when they finally left that parade, I saw with my own eyes, a black couple, married and in love, the likes of which we haven't seen on a national scale since the Huxtables on the Cosby Show, walk into that White House together.

I keep wondering, have we ever experienced something like this Inauguration? Have there ever been that many happy people crowded onto the Mall in Washington DC ever before? I don't remember ever seeing so many people going absolutely bananas with joy. It was like we were experiencing a collective spiritual and emotional watershed moment.

By the time I took my boys to their basketball game at 5:30, I was a hot mess from all the tears. Red rimmed eyes, head hurting so badly I could feel veins pulsing on my temples. But the happiness radiating from other parents at the game was wonderful to feel. It was nice to share my happiness them, my brothers and sisters of all colors and creeds.

When Obama said, "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord," I really felt him. That call for unity resonated so deeply with me. It is a shift in mindset. It requires a whole new way of operating and thinking on everyone's part. I am so ready for it.

Yes, there is always tomorrow. Indeed, the problems of the world await us with open arms. But if we "Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us," if we all rise up and take action in our individual lives and communities, surely we will all be better off for it.


I was teary all day too. What a moment.

Still don't believe it.

I feel we have our country back.
I cried right along with you...all day long...with my events...yeap just kept crying!

Now if we can just fulfill the hope and the promise! BUT I know that we are on the right road and that we've made a start and it fills my heart with joy!!!
Anonymous said…
Well written - you beautifully expressed what many of us felt yesterday.
Liz Dwyer said…
It does feel like we have our country back... and then some! WHOO HOO! :)

It really felt good to cry such happy and joyful tears. But yes, we have a LOT of work to do. This is a wonderfully fresh start but goodness, we all have to fulfill the promise, don't we?

Hugs to you! Wish you'd been here to watch it with me. (Because it's warmer here!)
Alia said…
I didn't cry. Does "almost" count?

Okay, I'll make up the chips: I stayed up late to watch TV (live broadcast is at 01:00 Indonesian time), and I wrote a very excited post about him and his speech, and I'm not even American, just another frazzled ObamaFan.

At least you and your kids have all the right to enjoy the banana frenzy.

Still, I'm proud too.

Congratulations to us all.
Jessalyn said…
LOL, you have me tearing up all over again, Liz! I wish I had thought about interviewing my kids. What an awesome idea!
Jameil said…
girl i've been teary today, too. a MESS!! i'm wondering when these tears will dissipate! lol. i'm glad you got to share it w/your boys.
Shiona said…
I was watching the coverage as well. Some of those pictures just made the tears start flowing. And then the balls as well. I wish I could have been there...A great day all the same.
Anonymous said…
I'm glad it meant so much to the boys and made them so confident in their own identity. Just think how many kids across the country have had the same encouragement.

And the new president is already winding down Guantanamo. Off to a flying start.
Jen said…
Like you, I spent all day crying and now I'm crying again reading this post.

Like you, I stood for the national anthem. Alone, in my house, with hand on heart.

Getting our country back, indeed, and maybe getting the very beginnings of what our country could be.
Ingrid said…
liz, my eyes were soar. i couldn't watch enough coverage. thank you for the elegant tribute. i was up until 230am central time so i know the joyous fatigue.
Anonymous said…
I cried like a baby through the whole thing. And my boys found it wonderful, feeling like their is finally someone who represents them. In their opposition to a wrongful war, in thier inclusion as nonbeleivers as legitimate Americans, in their identification as part of a global community. It had meaning for the Afircan-American community that was profound, but it also had meaning for those of us who were fervent believers all along in equality and peace.
Liz Dwyer said…
Almost does count. Nice that you were able to watch in Indonesia and send Obama some love from there. I know everybody in the world doesn't love the man but it is a nice moment of celebration for the whole world!

Hugs to you! I am glad I thought of doing it. They were just so excited I couldn't help it. I wish I'd filmed when they were jumping around and going nuts too!

I'm glad I kept them home too but my goodness, they had to do all their classwork and homework from yesterday AND tonight's homework! AAGH!

The pictures are just wonderful to witness. I especially like the ones of Michelle dancing with Barack. So nice to see them together. Whew!

Wow, he got a LOT done today today, didn't he? AND he had to re-do the oath! I think a lot of kids and adults are feeling very encouraged today. Me too!

It's amazing what a difference a day makes, isn't it? And I have never been so happy to stand and sing the national anthem. What a great feeling. Hugs to you too!

Goodness, you were up then weren't you! Even Jay-Z's horrible performance and the techno pogo stick dudes at the Neighborhood Ball couldn't erase the magic of the night. It is definitely joyous fatigue. Well said!

You are so right. I read today that Obama was the first president to mention Muslims in an inaugural speech... and not as terrorists either, I just felt like, wow, different era totally! I hope folks remember this day when they disagree or don't think things are changing fast enough. We are all getting closer to being unified!
jamaise said…
What a huge long awaited day. Historic not only because he is a first, but because he stands for something.
I hope he sets the bar for what we expect from our leaders.
He poked a hole in the dark sky of history and we were here to see the light!!

Anonymous said…
Ach. I came back to read what you'd said and saw the kind of typo that bugs me. There, not their.
Anonymous said…
I couldn't watch. I was too emotional to even watch. Stupid, I know but....
I would have kept my children home from school, too, if they were still children.

For me, one of the most marvelous aspects of this Obama presidency is that black children will now grow up knowing that there are no limitations on them beyond their own abilities, as it should be.

I am also thrilled at the image of this most elegant couple living in the White House, built by slaves, and I smile picturing Malia and Sasha exploring their new home, and Michelle instructing the chef about her family's food preferences.

The fact that it should have happened long ago is still true, but this helps so much.

Popular Posts