Why this day means so much to me:
I grew up in Alabama, and well remember the racial slurs thrown around like pepper dotting conversations. I can remember feeling uncomfortable whenever horrible words and phrases where used to describe an entire race or person. Even those who went to church would use provocative speech to delineate themselves from others of differing faiths within the same religion or others, races, unwed mothers, disabled and mentally challenged or ill, all in the name of being the ‘chosen followers.’
What also bothered me were these people, on their assumed pedal stools allowing men to abuse their wives and children in the 'name of being drunk or he just a man.' Women who wore clothing, jewelry and makeup asked to be sexually assaulted. Divorced women were of low moral standards and were probably guilty of extra martial affairs.
Later as an adult:
I was a privileged person serving abroad in our military and can remember: when fashion magazines incorporated more and more models of ethnic back grounds, movies with diversified faces, living with persons of all walks of life, exposure to the gay community and my world grew in leaps in bounds with growing belief in human equality. Volunteering led me to other awakenings and later in my career; I have held the hand of the battle tested as they lay dying in their hospital bed in the name of freedom and America.
Flash forward a few decades and here I sit; in awe and wonder with a sense of pride because though those horrible acts still occur-- yet there is still hope. Though I can no longer go back to the family that raised me because they still hold on to the ways of the past which nurtured them, I have hope. One day my sons or your children will be able to ascend to the ideals of freedom and equality. From this first step with President Obama; we will begin a journey of a thousand miles and yes, we are our brothers’ keeper.
So wiping the tears from my eyes, we move on with hope.