In my memory, the last time we had anything like this was at the end of World War II, first VE Day and then VJ day, our celebration with tears as we felt we had at last come out of the darkness.
So now we celebrate again.
For this old man, what it means is that he can't read his newspaper today because the tears keep gathering in his eyes.
How did it happen? I will let others do the analysis, but for me it was that kid a block away from the polling station, maybe nineteen or twenty, fresh white face, bright eyes, handing out Obama flyers to anyone who would take one. He hands it to you, you take it, and he says, "Thank you."
So the tears gather as we say thank you back to him. What we thank him for is reaffirming that our connection to the human species has a special meaning, that the human species will continue to move forward, and that the progress of the human species will vindicate and ennoble the existence of every one of us.
There are people on the Republican Right already mumbling that Barack Obama needs to make sure he governs for "everyone". Really, these people ought to be embarrassed, because what is most certain is that Obama will indeed govern for everyone more than George W. Bush governed for everyone. Even now, after a pail of ice water has been dumped on his head, Bush is doing his utmost to govern for the few by destroying as many protective regulations as he can. In some cases, it will take time to restore sanity to Executive agencies, to make certain these agencies are again acting for the public good rather than for the private few. But it will be done. Our new President will see that it's done as fast and as efficiently as possible.
Meanwhile, what has returned to us is hope, optimism, the feeling that we can indeed move forward to a better world for ourselves and future generations.
Thank you again to that kid on the street handing out flyers.
I will read my newspaper tomorrow -- when the tears have subsided enough.