"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where were you when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States? That will be my generation's question of historical significance. One of them, at least. That's one of the questions my daughter will ask me someday. And I will tell her that during this great moment in our country's history, I was in bed, with my dog, coincidentally, sick as a dog.
Penelope was at day care, playing and singing and participating in whatever activities had been planned for her and her classmates, seemingly oblivious to the magnitude, the enormity, the emotions of the day. No matter what your political beliefs, if you were unable to set aside your doubts, concerns, or partisanship to embrace the feelings of hope, faith, and optimism pouring out of our nation's capitol on January 20, 2009, then you are too intolerant, too cynical, too stubborn to be an agent of change. Sit on the sidelines and watch while the rest of us play.
I didn't think about Penelope much throughout the day, only to be thankful that I was able to be home sick without the added stress of her also being there. I am very selfish, and a big baby, when I am sick. And being home on this extraordinarily busy day in the news made it extremely difficult for me to relax in the first place.
Eventually, it was time to pick her up from day care, an exercise that was mostly routine. We got her bags, and put on her jacket. She asked if we were going to see Luna, going to see mommy. I said yes. I asked her if she was hungry for dinner, and she said yes. I don't pick her up often, usually about once a week. Every time, she wants to be carried. But this time was different.
She was walking alongside me into the lobby and toward the front door. I asked her, "Do you want to walk to the car?" She said she did. I told her to hold my hand because it was slippery and that there were cars out there. And she obliged.
I opened the door into the frigid night and we approached the first of five steps down to the walkway to the parking lot. As I looked down at my daughter, and saw her little brown shoe with the pink trim hitting that icy, salted step, her blond ringlets popping out from her hatted and hooded head, arm outstretched to grab hold of my hand, it all hit me. The possibilities. The opportunities. The chances that will be afforded to her. If you have the courage to take that step, it's all right there in front of you. And I will help you get there.
It made me proud to be a father of such a brave, independent, carefree daughter. And hopeful for her, confident for her. Confident that she can reach the previously unreachable, strive for the previously unattainable. Her future is limitless. And that makes me proud to be an American.