As I sat watching the inaugural activities, it was impossible to avoid reflecting on the days when my husband and I lived outside of Washington, DC while he worked at the then Veteran’s Administration. There were multiple opportunities for activities there and we took advantage of as many as possible.
I remember when our oldest son, Cliff, was a mere babe in arms and our new family made the trek from home to downtown Washington to attend the parade in honor of the newly sworn President Jimmy Carter. He and his wife, Rosalyn, walked down the street in front of where we were standing. I remember the mood of the crowd there and their enthusiasm. It was a joyous moment not just because of the man but because we were of one mind to celebrate a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the President and enjoy the the peaceful turnover of power from one man to another. Huddled against a building to keep Cliff out of a brisk, chilling wind, I watched as they waved greetings to all of us watching from the sidewalk.
Years later, my husband and I were lucky to receive an invitation to the Veteran’s ball due to his position as Assistant to the Deputy Director, in honor of newly sworn President Ronald Reagan. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I loved it. Leo and I were all decked out in our best finery and as we sat at a table near the stage, I was in awe of the pomp and circumstance of the evening. Secret Service guards stood on each side of the stage with stern, sober miens as we waited for the arrival of the President and Nancy. President Reagan spoke a few words followed by he and Nancy dancing for a short while. I don’t care who you are, you can’t be present at such an event without being moved.
As a child, I remember telling my Dad when asked which candidate I preferred, “I like Ike”. I remember the assassination of President Kennedy and watched all the events that followed including the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. I remember the impeachment trial of President Nixon and he and Pat waving farewell as they left the White House in disgrace. I remember all the Presidents of my lifetime, the good, the bad, and the ugly times through which I have lived. Sometimes, memories are a good thing.
Whether you approve of our current new President or not has no bearing on what will be in place for the next four to eight years. That is the power of the Constitution, by which we are guided, written so long ago with such wisdom, integrity, and hope for our future. Each time we elect a new president, we honor our system of government and all of those who participate in an election. Hope renews for the nation every four years. What we forget is that there are few countries in the world who have such a momentous opportunity.