Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I am a WASP, a word that I don’t see used very much anymore. It stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and that’s what I am. My genealogy is predominantly English, with Scots, Dutch, Welsh mixed in. The books entitled Atwater Genealogy and History, of which there are five or six, states therein, “David Atwater, one of the original planters of New Haven, Connecticut, came from London and settled in New Haven in 1638: All in America who bear the name of Atwater are descendants of David. None have yet been found whose lineage could not be traced to him." So there you have it. The three generations preceding John all lived and died in Royton, Lenham, county Kent, in England.

My family’s ancestors in this country probably owned slaves; there are instances where the evidence points pretty solidly to that fact, and there are instances where Atwaters were staunch abolitionists and assisted in the underground railway.

I was raised in Concord, Mass, in a liberal education system where one of the earliest inner city busing programs dropped kids from Boston’s rough areas at our little suburban schools every day. I grew up in a privileged town, yes, but was surrounded by friends who were every color of the rainbow. I thought that was the way things were supposed to be and I still feel that way today.

I am sure I have biases and prejudices, in fact I know I do, but frankly, race superiority, at least as I am able to understand and act upon it, ain’t one of them. I am of the opinion that whatever amends and restitution Black Americans and Native Americans ask for ought to be granted; there is no excuse for how they were treated, and that’s a fact. A formal apology, funding, exceptional access to the privileges of education and work, whatever it takes is fair for my mind.

So today, although I do not come from a minority experience and do not know what this day means to such people, I am proud indeed to be an American. I never, ever thought this day would come. There is much wrong with our country, and as President Obama said in his acceptance speech for the nomination, fixing it won’t get done in a year or a term. But the fact that I can today write the words ‘President Barack Obama’ is an amazing, wonderful, momentous and truly astounding thing.

I have great hope and faith in the people of this country; it has been our government that I had neither for, for many years now. My hope and faith in our government has been restored, and I wish to do what I can to make sure those sentiments are not wasted.

God bless America and the rest of the world. Let us work to make things right.

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