Εργάστηκα λίγο στο Φώτοσοπ για το Φέησμπούκ μου,
μέρα πού 'ναι σήμερα, 20 Ιανουαρίου 2017...
I have a story about President Obama that has stayed with me every day for the last eight years and will fuel my soul to the day I die.
I became a citizen in 1993. Of all the courthouses in all of the States I took my oath in Faneuil Hall (where the American Revolution began), in Boston. In 1995, I started my little business form my unfinished townhouse condo basement in Massachusetts under President Clinton. Soon I moved into office space and hired a few good people. The sales phone stopped ringing, as many little businessmen and women will tell you, not on 9-11 but nine months earlier the day the Supreme Court stopped the recount in Florida. It was a difficult eight years after that, the most difficult aspect being the growing sadness that was unspoken but evident everywhere. But I kept the business going even as I had to return home and leave the office. And I kept bringing up my son.
In the summer of 2007 I had to leave because both my parents were dying in Greece. In 2008 I met the most amazing Forest Ranger in an Italian National Park, we were married within five months and we stayed in her little village by the National Park near Florence.
On a short trip to show my wife New York and Boston we landed in new York on January 20th, 2009, one hour after President Obama was sworn into office.
At the point where the lines begin for US passports and other passports, with my US passport in hand and my wife next to me holding her Italian passport, I walked up to an officer who could have been Louis Armstrong’s twin, same big smile and radiant heart. I started saying “Excuse me, would it be possible for my wife, who is Italian, to…” The officer did not let me finish, He bowed 90 degrees from the waist and extended his right arm to welcome my wife in following me through the US passport line.
We drove straight into Manhattan. I had been away for just over a year, and could not recognize my fellow Americans. There was joy. There were smiles and laughs. There was good humor and it was as if everyone was friends with everybody. The gloom and sadness I remembered had evaporated. There was hope.
In that crystal clear day under those perfectly blue skies of January 20, 2009, we roamed Manhattan and it was a happy day. The first day in memory that was happy, not as in “happy day”, but as in a day alive herself, and happy and smiling right back at you.
I knew why… It was because a man, his wife and their daughters had a gift, and they shared it with all of us. The gift of believing that anything is possible in decency and optimism, that every day is a brand new day, and that yes, in fact, we can. The Obamas’ ability to make people feel good about themselves was surpassed only by their ability to make people feel good about their fellow citizens.
We witnessed that everywhere. I witnessed it. And on that day I felt like I knew the Obamas personally.
At the top of the Empire State Building in the crisp open air, I lit a cigarette, four hours into the Obama Presidency. A guard, who must have been related to the passports officer from JFK and they were both conspiring to give us an excellent day, pointed at my cigarette with a smile. I joyfully started putting it out and said “I am so sorry! I did not see a sign!”. He laughed a hearty laugh and said “I am the sign!” then we started talking about the inauguration.
President Obama did not let us, or me, down from that day on. His accomplishments with policy, the economy, jobs, administration, which he achieved against all odds, against brick walls and against the silent hatred that was thrown at him, are recorded and history knows about all of it.
We flew over from Italy just for me to vote in person as opposed to absentee on November 8, 2016. It’s easier to come home now that my son is a pilot for a major airline. We went to his new house in Florida to watch the results together after voting in Massachusetts.
By midnight of that day I knew that President Obama’s job just changed description. It is to be there, with all of us, working to never let die the spirit I felt, tangible in the air and the faces and hearts of the people on that beautiful day of January 20, 2009.
We are here, all of us, each one of us and me too. I still feel as if I know the Obamas personally and my story about the President and his family is that they did that for me, and for so many of us. Let’s keep that gift alive, together.
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