Monday, January 19, 2009

On The Steps Of The Lincoln Memorial

I guess I am just sentimental, but watching the Inauguration Gala last night from the Mall in Washington, DC, I was crying. My partner and I started watching it not expecting to be as moved as we were, but the historic import of the events this week really hit us both.

As a kid, I remember watching the March on Washington on TV. That August I was sitting in my parents house watching Dr. King speak on a black & white TV. More than a little ironically, our housekeeper, a wonderful woman who came in once a week to help my mother out with ironing and cleaning was sitting behind me at the ironing board. She and I were talking about the incredible sight we watched.

Clara, our housekeeper, was African-American, in those days we called her colored, but she was almost a part of our family. She cleaned for my aunt, both my grandmothers and an uncle. Her life and our family's lives were intertwined. Though she worked for us, she was always treated like one of our family. She even ended up inheriting our family car when we bought a new one.

She told me once how her great grandmother had been a slave, and the stories she used to tell of that time. Her great grandmother had lived to almost one hundred years of age, and so Clara got the family history passed directly to her. Now, we both watched as 250,000 people crowded the mall and listened to Dr. King speak.

That day came rushing back to me as I watched Barack Obama speak from the very spot where Dr. King once stood. No wonder I was emotional.

On this anniversary of Dr. Kings birth, I am grateful I could see both these historic speeches and sincerely hope the years ahead fulfill King's dream. "Free at last, free at last. Thank God I am free at last."

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