These ceremonies have occurred many times in my lifetime, but this is the first time I feel connected to it, the first time in my life that I felt as if my voice, my vote, had anything at all to do with what went on in the distant land of Washington, D.C.
The aspects of the ceremony that are meant to be moving and meaningful -- the parts that usually leave me cold with the awareness of hypocrisy that offends me to my core -- those things moved me today: "My Country 'Tis of Thee," the benedictions, the happy crowd, the proud First Lady.
I felt the pinprick of tears in my eyes and a swell of something in my chest; could this unfamiliar sensation be . . . patriotism?
I have added President Barack Obama to my prayers. Our country is in a real mess, and I pray he can lead us through it with grace and dignity. In other words, I hope we can have some grace and dignity, pull out of our economic crisis, extricate ourselves from this war and come up with real solutions for the injustices of the world. In short, start living up to some of the Founders' ideals:
". . . a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . ."
--from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
I hope I don't start waving flags any time soon; this is really weird. I may have to rethink my whole expat, retirement-in-Sweden fantasy.