Hope Returns in 2009

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

I remember watching G. W. Bush steal his first term in office from Al Gore. It was – I thought it would be – the Kennedy moment of my generation. I thought that would be the most devastating, "where were you" moment uttered by future generations as I sat on a porch in a rocking chair, sipping wine or Scotch. My roommate and I at the time, we watched the proceedings, aware that something very wrong was happening in our country. My roommate went to bed early, disgusted. Early on he had lost hope that Right would prevail, the true promise of a Democracy. Granted, this was my first time voting for the Office of the President, I was naive and hopeful, two adjectives in turn exploited and denied by the Bush White House. Although I secretly knew there was in those defining moments no hope I stayed up all night, wishing those Wrongs would be corrected. I never imagined that G.W.’s first time in office would not be the defining moment of my generation. I never dreamed there would be a second similar moment, when Mr. G.W. was reelected to an office that he had grandly stolen and transgressed against in the first place.

In the following fall, three months after my graduation from college and three weeks after friends and I toasted our supposedly bright futures on a beach in Nag’s Head, NC something else happened. That was another moment I imagined would be the definition of my generation, the destruction of the Twin Towers, the murder of countless civilians, the wounding of the world’s true capital. Surely even this was worse than what had happened with the Bush-Gore elections. I was living in New York at the time. I was spellbound and confused as my roommate screamed "there’s a plane in the World Trade Center," woke me up, put my glasses on me and pointed me towards the TV. He did so just as the second plane hit the building. Even then I had hope, thinking it was some sort of rescue.

We were sure in those moments, while fighter jets circled New York, that we had truly, finally, seen the defining moment of our generation. We saw the greatest city in the world humbled, in tears in a matter of seconds. We heard friends and classmates bemoan the loss of an uncle or an aunt, a brother or a mother, a father or a friend, a sister or a schoolmate. We then saw Afghanistan become embroiled in war. Soon after a best-friend from high school that had just joined the military headed off to the region and I thought – hoped, what else could go wrong? – that was the defining moment of our generation. I thought this, our pointless war, our Vietnam, would personify us. There was not a time I came home to Philadelphia while my dear friend was serving his country that I didn’t drive or walk past his childhood home, praying for his safe return which was luckily just that. When we launched war on Saddam I can only say I was happy my friend was home and sorry to hear another friend’s husband was bound for Iraq.

Recalling the whole administration I could recount the recent economic collapse as another hallmark of my twenties but I won’t. In sum under Mr. Bush I have seen many milestones pass in these eight years. These have all been experiences so weakening of the American spirit that they can doubly, rightly be called travesties. However, today has been a time of celebration. This time I think – and rightly so – the hallmark, the "where were you" moment has truly passed for my generation and these our times. Or maybe it has just begun, finally indeed, begun. In truth, I did support Hillary initially. I imagined we needed her seasoned guidance to lead us, but we needed something more.

We needed Obama.
We needed a spark.
We need these dark days to pass.

We have seen an African-American man become elected into Office. Yet besides this revolutionary fact and far more importantly we now have won a president promising something novel: hope, peace and a return to those ideals that made America the Union it is today. A leader that strives to deliver, reform and command a more perfect vision of that Union. I think after eight years of deceit, corruption, warfare and general dismay with faces pointed to Washington, D.C. we are beginning afresh. And this has made all the difference.

True, my caustic wit could have gone many ways with this piece, perhaps off the deep end. I thought of a New Year’s Resolution story based around poking fun of the Republican attempt to win credibility again. Namely that if you miss seeing Ms. Palin don’t hope she becomes the next Republican Candidate, just wish for a reality show called "I Can See Russia From My House" on VH1 or Bravo. I considered that I should wax and wane against all the reasons my twenties have – for lack of a better phrase – sucked at the hands of Mr. Bush. Yet, these topics seemed to negative, too pedestrian for the overwhelming changes this inauguration hopes to author.

Then today as I happily watched Katie Couric narrate over and about G.W.’s helicopter felicitously leaving for Andrews Air Force Base I realized I could not rightly be bitter, sarcastic or droll today. Instead of seeing this moment as only bidding a fond, much-awaited adieu to Mr. Bush I saw it as one of new beginnings. A new everything if you will! Hope has returned! And above all else, this inauguration has made me happy, hopeful and proud. The three things I have not been in about eight years, where my country was concerned. This truly was a happy epiphany for me, rekindling the great, now diminished optimism the Bush administration has denied me. I feel I speak for many others, weary beyond their years, because of this administration. Mr. Obama’s inauguration reminded me that it is once again, for the first time in eight years, time to smile and hope. Yes, I still do breath a sigh of relief that Mr. Bush is now in fact gone. However I do so now with happiness at the future, not bitterness against the past eight years.

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