The moments we never forget: they can run from the mundane, to the personal, to the hallmarks that we share with many. I will certainly never forget the utter exhilaration I shared with thousands while standing in the right field bleachers as Tino Martinez's long fly cleared the wall with two out in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. There was the first time I saw Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium in 1985 and felt the magic of rock n' roll pouring through my suddenly spellbound mind. There were the few minutes in Ponte Vedra, Florida when the sunrise combined with the sound of Son Volt's "Windfall" streaming through my iPod summoned a feeling I'd never felt before.
Of course, not all of these imprints are positive memories. There was the moment I sat on the F Train in Brooklyn, turned my head from the newspaper to the window and witnessed one of the twin towers burning from above. It was about an hour later that I watched a tower fall along with hundreds of others outside the CBS Building on the edge of Central Park. At about 3pm on the same afternoon, as I walked from block-to-block with no destination in mind, I recall stopping in my tracks and witnessing middle-aged women having their nails and toes polished while the rest of the world was glued to the horrors occurring in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania. These episodes, having all happened within just a few hours of each other, are etched in my mind forever.
And then there was the day of December 12, 2000. The mainstream media has long since forgotten this day, but I can never erase the feeling that our democracy was beginning to crumble when five Supreme Court justices handed the presidency to George W. Bush. My unwavering support of Al Gore was less a manifestation of party lines, and more a gut-feeling about what drove these two people. I'd read countless articles about Gore's passion for the planet and Tipper's desire to raise awareness to the struggles and stigmas around mental illness. As I watched the debates and followed their campaigns, there were intangibles within their personalities that made the choice absolutely clear to me. I will never forget sitting in my cubicle at a cable network as the television that hung in the hallway revealed the Court's decision. The woman behind me let out an expletive while my head hit my hands on the desk. I had a deep mistrust of Bush from the outset, and the news being reported made his presidency a reality.
What's happened since that day has been an American travesty. Iraq. Katrina. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. We've all heard it again and again, but for me, and many of us, it was that afternoon in mid-December of 2000 that represents the moment that this country took an extreme pivot. The decision handed down by our highest court, set the stage for a presidency that altogether discounted our democratic ideals, the rule of law, and even the most basic ethics.
Fast forward to the night of November 4, 2008. The instant that MSNBC declared Barack Obama the winner, I sat almost motionless. I then rose from the couch and embraced my girlfriend, but the magnitude of what was happening was still days, if not weeks away, from truly settling in. I turned from one station to the next to hear the calls over and over. And then I went online. When I picked up the paper the following morning, I still couldn't believe it. As the weeks passed, every story about the "transition" reminded me that, yes, Barack Hussein Obama had indeed won. And when I was finally able to grasp this, I kept reverting back to the chorus of network calls at 8pm on that first Tuesday in November.
Barack Obama has held the office of the presidency for less than two weeks now. In that short span of time, our new leader has touched his pen to paper repeatedly and begun the process of reversing many of the ills delivered by the Bush Administration. Whether it's for workers rights or the closing of a shameful prison, with every swipe of the pen, our president restores my faith in a democracy that seemed teetering for almost a decade. And just like a historic home run or a song that captures your spirit, I'm certain that our new president will leave marks that will last a lifetime.