Of all the years I spent in DC, my favorite memories come from the fall of 2008 and January 2009: the night that Barack Obama was elected, when people whooped with joy through the streets to the White House; the day that he was inaugurated, when I watched along the parade route as he and Michelle got out of the car to wave (and Joe Biden followed a couple of car lengths behind; instead of waving, he pointed and grinned); and the following morning, when I was lucky enough to volunteer at the National Cathedral.
Those days ushered in a period of optimism for me: eight years in which I have been proud of the ways our country has become more open, accepting, responsive, and respected. I remain inspired by President Obama, his family, and his leadership.
Today, as he leaves office, feels like a day of mourning. The person coming into the position has not given one bit of his life to public service, and is so threatened by any opinion different from his own that he’s trying hard to convince us that reporters – simply doing their job – are evil.
Yet we are Americans. We are allowed to disagree. We should protest. And we need to be paying attention.
So this morning, I am remembering this: despite what DJT says, being aware of and involved in the government is not only our right as Americans, it is also our duty. I believe one of our most important everyday challenges is to ensure that our actions reflect the United States we actually are – the one that opens the door to freedom, opportunity, and equality – rather than the one that DJT sees, which is exclusive and selfish. That calls upon mindfulness in our words and actions, kindness as a guiding principle in our lives, and making clear efforts to help others whenever we can.
I am so proud of the votes I cast for President Obama, and will forever be grateful for his leadership, grace, strength, and optimism over the last eight years.
Today, I recall the spirit of that prayer breakfast I attended back in 2009: may peace be with us, all.