I graduated from high school and began college in 2001. Exactly one week after I began school, 9/11 happened. These events completely and utterly shaped my entire school career and my adult life. I vividly recall debating the (de)merits of the Iraq War during the build-up to the War. I remember when people who did not want to invade Iraq were called traitors, treasonous, and terrorist supporters. I remember the first evidence of widespread torture, and being totally shocked by the fact that there was a debate over the morality of torture. I remember seeing the signs in the libraries assuring us that the "FBI Has Not Been Here" in the wake of the Patriot Act. I have simultaneously been horrified and heartened, disgusted and encouraged, disappointed and proud by this country, her citizens and her leaders.

I want to be optimistic again. I know that Obama wants us to be optimistic, but like a domestic abuse victim, I'm scared. I'm convinced we're going to be crushed in new and horrible ways. I have been trained over the past eight years to regard the highest office in the land, the office of Washington, and Jefferson, and Lincoln, and Kennedy with a deep sense of suspicion and fear. I think that will be Bush's legacy. But I'm relieved by the fact that there have been bad, even horrible, presidents in the past, and America survived and continued to flourish.

So, even though I'm scared, I guess I can be a little optimistic, too.
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I've been looking forward to this day for so long, as I'm sure many of you have. When I voted today, it was raining and stormy. I stupidly drove past the middle school and had to circle the block, even though I knew exactly where I was supposed to be. I finally found a parking spot, and the winds picked up more, whipping the rain and the dead leaves. I followed the signs into the middle school and gave the poll worker my name and address. She had me sign the sheet, and gave me a voter card. I walked a short distance to the machines, and I finally gave Barak Hussein Obama and Joseph Robinette Biden, JR my vote. I voted a straight Democratic ticket--a hopelessly optimistic stance in Utah. But it didn't feel meaningless. The national percentage didn't put Obama in the White House, but I am proud to stand up and be counted with the over fifty-five million people who called out for change, hope, and optimism.

I cried at the polling place. I am not an emotional person, but I couldn't help it.

After I voted, I walked up the block to Obama's Utah headquarters. I volunteered for an hour, calling people in Florida and encouraging them to vote. When I stepped out of the building and returned to my car, it was still raining.

I can't say I was completely faithful today. Waiting for the returns on the first states made me beyond anxious. I spent the day keeping busy just so I could get through the hours. I had to work tonight at 7:30, but on the drive to the office, I heard NPR called Ohio for Obama.

And I knew things would be better.

Every time I realize who is the President-Elect and what it means, I cry again. And that's why I wanted to get this posted tonight before Midnight.

Because we made history tonight. And I never want to forget that.
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