Morning Update: Okay, I have to provide one short update to this post that occurred to me this morning…I find it funny that in the first paragraph when I talk about not thinking about the Inauguration from the view of immigrants it is because I am a “5th generation Texan.” I failed to mention that my family has been in America since it started. Seriously…I think we had people come over on the Nina, Pinta or Santa Maria (Mom will have to tell us which one). But my first instinct when writing was to document how long I have been a Texan.
Perhaps that is why the Sticker, “American by Birth, Texan by the Grace of God” is prominently displayed in my office. I thought that was funny.
I got a fantastic email from one of my guests for the Inauguration. It was in response to the many people who had emailed or called him and asked, “How was D.C.? How was the Inauguration.” It is a fantastic recap of what the day meant, but told from a unique perspective, one I don’t often think about being a 5th Generation Texan.
Tuesday, I had an incredible experience, I got to attend the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. Cari’s (my wife) friend Jennifer organized and arranged an incredible three (3) day experience full of history, excitement and overwhelming emotion. It started with going around Virginia on Sunday, Monday visited the Pentagon Memorial and attended the Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball (with 12,000 Proud Texans), but Tuesday, January 20, 2009 is a day I will not forget and will make sure that my children understand what that day means in History with the swearing in of the 44th President and what this means for them.
The day began with a stop at convenience store to get a cup of Coffee. While waiting for the group of friends to get their morning kick, I encountered a group of Hispanic labor workers waiting and hoping for an opportunity to make a wage that day. One man came over to ask me if I had work for him, I answered him in his native language and he looked at me surprised that I would answer him in Spanish, let alone talk to him. Unfortunately I did not have work, but I wished him luck and he did the same to me. From there onto the Metro for a 45 minute trip into DC, train after train jam packed with a diverse group of people from all parts of the world all riding this train to go watch history. For all riding it seemed to be a journey to an incredible experience. As we walked from the George Washington University stop towards Constitution Ave, The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol appeared on the Horizon.
Amazing, a son of Cuban Immigrants was walking along with his wife and friends in a Country where a peaceful transfer of power was about to take place. Different from what my Parents unfortunately had experienced when they were my age. They had to leave a Country and a life behind that they and those before them had worked so hard for. They left with the shirts on their backs, and leaving loved ones without knowing if they would ever see them again. See today, it didn’t matter if you were white, African-American, Chinese or Hispanic to name a few, it didn’t matter if you were Republican, Democrat or a liberal, whether you voted for the 44th President or not. It was about being able to stand with 2 million people full of emotion and witnessing history. Tuesday we all witnessed a new President preach hope, and an outgoing President leave home Proud (which he should be) of the office he had the privilege to hold, elected twice by the people of this Country, and having led a Country through the cruelest event the Country has ever experienced on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. This experience will only solidify what Cari and I tell our kids all the time, that they could be what ever they want to be and no one can stop them.
I didn’t go to the Inauguration for me, I went for them. I went to be able to tell my kids that in a Country where his grandparents came to find opportunity and a better life for them, something special happened. See if my Parents wouldn’t have made the decision to seek a better life then they may not have been here. I understand why my grandmother at the age of 92 became an American Citizen. I asked her then why at her age would she do it, why now as old as she was, would she sit and study for a test; she looked at me and said “look around and see what you and your sister have, this Country provided this opportunity to me and your parents and I owe it to this Country to die a Citizen.” When I get back to Houston, I can tell Connor and Ava that on Tuesday the son of Cubans, born in Spain, grew up in Miami and married an American girl from Houston, witnessed History. Witnessed it for them, envisioned opportunity for them! Sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with our Party, I could hear the comments of many just mentioning how incredible this moment was. The Moment within the Moment, a moment that no matter how big and strong you are, it is difficult not to get emotional for a split second. No matter which way you looked you saw people, you saw Americans!! As I sat there it was incredible as I kept looking over my shoulder and Lincoln sitting tall watching over what he had envisioned, and looking forward and around seeing the Washington Monument and the Jefferson, no way you couldn’t be proud to be where I was. You see my day started with Hispanic men looking for work, sat on the steps of Lincoln Memorial looking down the National Mall, with 2 million people that were just like me, Americans, many immigrants just like me.
As any day, it had to end, heck it couldn’t come fast enough, it was in the teens and temperatures never made it above freezing all day (think about it…a warm blooded Cuban boy walking in these freezing temperatures). We ended with a walk across the Potomac into Rosslyn, Virginia and visited the Iwo Jima Memorial dedicated to the Men and Women of the US Marine Corp. One of the members of our group (Mike) was a Marine and looking at him walking around this Memorial makes you truly appreciate what this all means. The pride he felt, was felt by all of us, you couldn’t help it. Mike mentioned visiting this Memorial once to Jennifer during the trip, and she must have known how important it was for him to visit, because she didn’t forget and I in particular am glad she didn’t.
I am grateful to Jennifer for setting this up. I hope you understand that not having been born in this Country you don’t always feel that you truly belong, kind of being away from home I would say. Sometimes, as everything else in life you don’t know what you have until you lose it. Well my parents know what they had and lost everything and have always been so appreciative of what this Country has provided us as a family. Interestingly enough they live 90 miles from the Coast of their mainland not ever knowing if they will have the opportunity to show their son where they are from. I on the other hand will be able (thanks to my parents and this Country) to bring my children one day to the same steps where the oath was taken yesterday and tell a Hispanic boy and a Hispanic girl that if they want to, they can some day stand in that same spot and take that oath. That is why this Country is so great, that is why it so encouraging to wake up under the liberty that the men and women of US Armed Forces fight for to provide us day in and day out.
Many of you that are close to me know how I voted in this election and may or may not agree with me, heck my own wife may not, but on that Tuesday I stood there in the same place with people that may or may not have voted like I did, but it didn’t matter. One last note, it is a quick piece of the trip and a great answer to a question a gentleman asked Jennifer. A man came up to us, I am sure he saw us having a great time and asked “are you celebrating?” Jennifer the die hard Republican answered ” I always celebrate a peaceful transfer of power, but no my guy didn’t win.” That sealed it for me, it didn’t matter who won or lost that election, it only mattered that our Country is the envy of many around the world because on Tuesday at noon, a peaceful transfer of power took place, and now this man stood on steps on the steps of the Capital as OUR President.
Hopefully from what you have read above, I have answered your question as to how my trip was……