Monday, January 19, 2009

"Rory" and I will be heading to D.C. soon

National Park Service, Inauguration Events, 2:30 p.m., Sun. Jan 18, 2009

Well, no one is going to mistake me for Lorelai, but my 17-year-old daughter and I will be on our way to D.C. early this evening. It will be a crazy whirlwind trip, 36 hours spent either on the bus or standing in crowds in the Mall. I've been too busy trying to get ready to put any thoughts together. They are many and mixed.

Although the Lincoln Memorial will not be the center of attention tomorrow, I'm thinking that may be where I want to end up. It holds many memories for me, first being when my father splurged and got us a taxi when we were visiting when I was a young child in the early 1960's. He took us there late at night and we walked to the top of the stairs, no one else up there. I'll never forget it, the light and the shadows and the face of Lincoln.

Also swirling around in my mind are the photos and books relating to Lincoln that Judge Wood kept in the small study in the back of his chambers in the federal building in Chicago where he sometimes let us clerks work. There was his father's old wooden desk from his Springfield, Illinois law office and there were photos on the wall, including the Lincoln Memorial, Salem, as well as the many from the judge's trips around the world, including Moscow.

I talked to some people at church yesterday who were in D.C. for some of the big anti-war demonstrations in the 1960's. At that time, Judge Wood was an Assistant Attorney General and worked hard to keep peace and order but, at the same time, allow peaceful protests to take place. He is best remembered for his work negotiating at Wounded Knee. I am so sorry I could not make it to his funeral in Springfield a couple weeks ago.

Then there is Obama himself, not just the Lincoln connection but his ties to Chicago, near where I grew up and lived for many years. I was fascinated by what he wrote about the Harold Washington years of city politics, back when Obama was doing his community organizing.

I don't know what this new administration will bring for any of us. No telling whether events will overtake and overpower the best minds and the best intentions, at least when it comes to grappling with the financial crisis and the waves of unemployment that are putting more and more people into anxiety and misery. But for right now, "Rory" and I are going to be there to celebrate with so many from all around the country and the world who are full of hope and excitement and well wishes for Barack, his family, and all those who are going to be working for him.

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