From OC to DC
Excitement for this trip had been slowly building since Election Day last November, and now it was finally here. My trip started last Friday night when Governor Schweitzer of Montana enlightened the packed house at the Orange County Democratic Dinner. He recounted the journey of his own family and his grandmother, who immigrated by herself, starving and penniless from Ireland, and went to Montana because she was offered free train tickets to homestead the frontier. He also shared real-life stories about how progressive Montana has been under his leadership, especially in education where they're working towards the goal of mandatory daylong kindergarten and free preschool.
The next day, I left sunny California bound for the complete opposite side of the US, where temperatures hit a chilling 19 degrees. (I definitely felt safe as Leon Panetta, our CIA Director nominee, and his wife boarded the plane before me.) From the moment I landed, there was definitely a thrill of excitement in the air. The streets were filled with vendors selling all sorts of Obama paraphernalia, and a buzz was about as nearly everyone was proudly wearing their Obama pins, hats, and scarves.
The same excitement charged the air Inauguration morning. The sun was out, and the air was crisp and cold. The Metro train and Union Station were packed. Reverend Jesse Jackson and his entourage passed us on the streets as millions of people maneuvered to get to their gates, stand in line, and become part of history. People cheered "O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma" and waved American flags on the Capitol Mall. It was great to hear the familiar voice of our own Senator Dianne Feinstein officiate the proceedings and the music of my "cousin" Yo-Yo Ma's performance. (A part of me wondered if his fingers were cold).
As we waited for the Man of the Hour, I felt grateful for all the freedoms that we have, including the right to choose our leaders. I definitely feel a strong sense of pride in being American because Barack Hussein Obama represents the realization of an American Dream where one can work hard, dare to dream big, and succeed. For my own father, Obama's election represents a major step closer to a colorblind society. As a daughter of immigrants, I remind others that democracy is not only a right, but a privilege that needs to be cherished, honored, and protected.
In the words of our 44th President, "All are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness." God bless our new Commander-in-Chief!
And don't forget, January 21st is National Hugging Day so go out and hug a few people today!