I was four when Neil Armstrong first set his human foot on the moon. That July day in California was also my youngest brother's baptism and my parents had invited several people over to celebrate. My dad put the television outside because of the heat and every chair we owned was around it, full of relatives and friends marveling over the thought of capturing the moon.
I was snuggled on my dad's brother's lap when Armstrong's broken voice articulated those famous words, "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
"You'll remember this day," my uncle whispered in my ear," and he gave me a squeeze.
My uncle is no longer with us, but he was right, I do remember that day. And I want my children to remember today, another giant leap for mankind.
The schools here were great -- many of the teachers explained the signifigance of the first African American US President. My three-year-old rushed out saying it was a "precious day" and gushed about "President Pa-ja-ma". Emily's teacher singled her out in class, reminding her that she was not only British, but also American, and this was her president. She was absolutely bursting with pride when she met me at the school gate. Pride. Read this if you don't understand the signifigance.
I am also proud, of a country that can pick itself up and start over. Of a country that doesn't see color. Of a country that hopes and prays for a better future, whatever that may hold.
I was elated to see these sentiments echoed on my Facebook page:
My old boss (English): is blown away by the oratory. What a speech. The world has hope...
A Belgian ex-colleague: is excited about the start of a new era for the US of A!
A British friend: is glad to see the back of "W."
A German I hardly know: is watching Obama, like the rest of the country, in awe...
We had a quiet afternoon. I made popcorn and sausages and we ate chocolate cake. And every one of my children watched the entire inauguration. Without complaining.