Saturday, January 17, 2009

Proud to Be an American

I hate to sound like a Lee Greenwood song, but today I'm definitely Proud to Be an American.

I'm watching the news coverage of Obama's train ride to DC and looking at the crowds that have braved the cold to come out and see it pass makes me very proud. People are lining the route, just wanting to get a glimpse of the man who will become President in a couple of days. Obama is obliging, by waving from the back of the train. I wonder how the secret service likes that.

The arrival by train began with Harrison in 1841 and ended with Eisenhower in 1953. Obama has revived the tradition as a salute to Abraham Lincoln.

The thing I love about it is that it gives more Americans an opportunity to have their moment with Obama. I think that's important for any president - to "connect" with as many people as possible. It gives people a sense that they're part of something and I think that's a critical ingredient in making things work.

My family still talks about Clinton's campaign bus driving through Barlow on Highway 60. Bobby Clark was a little guy at the time and they all went out to see them and wave as they went by. There's something significant about  the person who's going to be leading the country seeing your little part of it. That he has witnessed there are real people living in this place makes it seem more real that he cares.

Although I'm not anywhere near the train route, I'm thrilled for the folks who are getting to see it. I'm sure there are some folks in those crowds who were not Obama supporters and it's encouraging to see people coming together.

I know things are awful in this country right now in some ways. But I hope for just a short while we can celebrate what's right with our nation as we have yet another peaceful transition of power. The great achievement of our democracy is not that our forefathers came together and created a new nation and elected George Washington as the first president. The real moment when they knew it was successful was when Adams became the second president. Now another George, who has been most gracious during this transition, will hand over to Barack Obama. That, truly, is democracy in action. And I'm proud to be an American.
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