Thirty –two years ago today was a cold one here in Florida. That capricious weather element known as snow flurries danced in the air. My dad, the chief public information officer for the local power company, was everywhere, fielding calls about brown—outs and doing media interviews in the front yard. School was cancelled, because the classrooms couldn’t get warm enough. A day off. For cold weather. In Florida. Monumental.
So – what’s a slightly nerdy, precocious and inquisitive seventh grade girlie to do on such a day?
Watch history being made. Which is what I did.
The Presidential campaign of 1976 was the first one to which I really paid attention. Ironically, my fascination with Watergate was the gateway impetus to my deep and passionate investment in political current affairs. And so I watched party conventions and read about election events and tried to understand editorial comments. I knew the names of Jimmy Carter’s crazy family members and could identify his pals from Georgia. Coming from a family of yellow-dog Democrats, I appreciated, even at my tender age, the significance of this political shift.
So when the school called to let us know that classes were cancelled for the day, I was more excited than the average bear. For I would be able to watch history being made. I could see the Inauguration of President Carter unfold in real time. Which was basically all we had in those days before YouTube and Plurk and Facebook.
From the oath taking to the unprecedented jump out of the car of the family to walk, hand in hand, down the parade route, with Mrs. Carter in her baby blue coat to the glamour of the Inaugural Balls. Thirty-two years later, I still remember those details. My first Inauguration.
Today, I’m reminded of that piece of my history as I sit, electronically plugged in every which possible, watching each moment, each move of this day. With the same wonder and amazement and pride I had thirty-two years ago.
The world is a different place now, thanks to technology and trial and experience.. Yes, our challenges are different and dare I say, more dire – but still the same, somehow, as they were all those years ago.
But on a day like today, when hundreds of thousands of people have made the effort to simply be in the same airspace as the President, and the words hope and change and can and do are earnest and cliché-free, anything seems possible.
Just goes to show that idealism is timeless. The twelve-year-old girl in me tells me so.