What happened in the crowd? Was it worth braving the cold? Why was I there if I am Italian?
I am not an American citizen. And, the way the paperwork for my visa application is going, I might never be one. But I felt like an American today assisting to history in the making on the National Mall where the first African American was elected President.
I hope this does not cause my family to cringe. I am, in no way, renouncing my Italian citizenship. But having lived in this country for over seven years, I couldn’t hold the tears and stop the goosebumps when I saw a 98-year-old black woman from Georgia all bundled up in 20-degree weather to see Obama swear his commitment to this country. I have no idea if she lived to see the slavery movement, but the sole fact that she woke up at 5 am to be on the Mall before me to celebrate “Mr. President” with her daughter and niece and did not complained once, brighten my day even more.
The hectic morning run to the metro, the crowded ride, the frantic walk through the tunnels with lack of caffeine in my blood, vanished as soon as I met her. She was the living proof that “determination makes for actions” in this country.
It’s not only because “you voted for him” that we have a black president who is willing to “turn this country inside-out if he has to,” but because of the “determination” of his fellow citizens who did not give up hope and trust in their country and their country’s promise to “eternal freedom and happiness for all.”
Determination is what I had when I first moved into this country when I was 17 not knowing the language and my way around my block. Determination today was all around me and made the Inauguration that much more meaningful.
I saw determination among the many children who braved the early morning rise, leaving their warm beds to join their parents in the gelid street where a nap was not even an option. I saw determination among the many who came as far away as from France, Hawaii, Canada, Jamaica to see Obama in a Jumbotron.
I witnessed how determined one can be to walk four miles with a walker and a nice just because she wants her to remember she lived this moment with her grandma when she will be gone. I saw determination in the nurses who took care of hypothermia and crowd-anxiety while missing the whole event. The spoiler alerts from many newspapers that today was going to be “hell” did not stop this countrymen to push their way around to witness what was “The Sunrise of a New Era.”
It was cold, not doubt. It was scary crowded and claustrophobic, of course, but it was more than worth it!
It was a gift. A gift shared with so many wonderful people who I can’t call con-national, but I consider “as one people, one nation” with a common dream to mine–a humbleness to face the obstacles the future will bring and overcome them with the same determination showed today.