Terrance Heath

History

Filed By Terrance Heath | June 05, 2008 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, election 2008, race

I can only 2549441217_71f7bb3537_o.jpgthink of one moment in my memory that compares to this. It was when I stood in front of my television and watched the Berlin Wall come down, live on CNN. I'm not yet sure that another wall has come down now. In fact, I'm more certain that significant portions of it still stand, and some may have been reinforced.

But there's an opening now. It was there before, but it's much, much wider now. Through it, we can just see the other side, and even have more hope of reaching it.

I only wish my father had lived to see this moment. After all he saw and experienced in his lifetime, I'm sure it would have done his heart some good. If I actually get to go to the convention and cover it, now that I'm credentialed along with the rest of the bloggers at Pam's House Blend, I'm sure I'll be thinking about him. And maybe again at inauguration. Maybe I will have the chance to take Parker to downtown D.C., to the inauguration, to witness the moment. He may not grasp the significance then, but he will when he remembers. And he will remember. I know I will.

But tonight, when I get home, I'll take down from the shelf a project Parker and I have been working on for a while now. It started around the time that my son finally started to notice race, and perhaps he even perceived more about the differences made between people based on race than he had words to express. Wanting to pass on to him an idea of his heritage, and what people who look like him have and can accomplish, I decided we would start a photo album.

First, we put in family pictures, and I explained to him who each person in each picture was. Then we moved on to African Americans who are famous for their accomplishments. I tried to pick people whose accomplishments matched his interests -- a black race car driver, because at the time Parker was into race cars; a black astronaut, because for a minute he wanted to be an astronaut; a black composer whose songs are among those I sing to him at night when it's my turn to put him to bed. We paste the pictures into the book, and then a short paragraph about that person, which I would read to him.

It's our little history book, I guess. And tonight we'll put Barak Obama's picture in that book. For both of us, it will be an example of what he can accomplish. I will look my son in the eye and say to him what my parents said to me: "You can do anything, and be anything you want if you work hard at it. You could even be the president." The difference is that when my parents said it to me, it was a dream -- perhaps a belief in what the future and their country could be.

Tonight, when I say those words to my son, it will still be a dream just this side of reality; but a dream within reach, where it has never really been before.

And, after a long period of neutrality during the primaries, I guess it's finally time to finally declare myself. From this point on I'm an Obama supporter.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 5, 2008 10:04 AM

Terrance, I thought of you twice as I walked up Buddha Mountain in Pattaya. That would be both times and I plan on making it a twice monthly event. I will be dragging not only my sagging butt, but memories of MLK, JFK, RFK, LBJ and dare I say Eisenhower? (I was in my jammies then).

The tapestry of memories you are weaving into your son's life are absolute treasures. May Buddha grant you merit.

Really, this is something that I'm sure people at the founding of the US in the late eighteenth century probably never dreamed of. It's huge. And hopefully we'll get Obama all the way to the presidency!

I remember the Bay of Pigs and how it affected my father who was in the Air Force at the time. I remember "Duck and Cover." I remember both Kennedys and King being assinated. I remember the Wall going up AND coming down.

As one who enjoys the sciences, I watched all the Mercury and Gemini launches, and the Apollo 1 and 13 disasters. I watch Neil Armstrong step on the Moon, and the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

9/11 is etched in my memory, as is attending the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I cheered as picture of the planets and moons came from far-away probes, and cried as pictures from the various wars filled my TV screen. I remember Watergate and Nixon resigning. I have seen the best and the worst of times.

Now, I can add Obama to the list of historical events I have had a chance to witness. It's moments like this that makes life worth living.

I have to admit, I had to dab at my eyes watching that speech.