12/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Yesterday's Events and Conversation Pieces

Apparently, there are certain magazines and newspapers with Barack Obama's image after having won the election that are collector's items. I'm pleased that after having read my November 5th issue of the New York Times, I had the foresight to keep the paper instead of doing what I usually do and toss it in the recycle bin. My thinking was not to sell it on E-bay, but rather keep it for history's sake and perhaps, if they are to come to fruition, for any grandchildren's sake. However, the main reason I kept that paper was for my own sense of relief, a confirmation that perhaps the country was finally going to have a chance for survival.

I'm not one to put anyone on a pedestal, but, admittedly, President-elect Barack Obama represents hope for me. I joked with a friend of mine a couple days after the election saying that I was going to become one of those people who have a tacky picture of their leader on the wall in their home. I was kidding, but I actually understood for the first time what it meant to want to honor someone in such a way. Then, a couple days later, the publisher, Sourcebooks, sent me a complimentary 2009 calendar where each month had an image of Barack Obama. I laughed, recalling what I'd said to my friend, and, initially, I was going to rip off the cellophane and hang the calendar in my office. Then, it occurred to me that it might be worth keeping wrapped--for those yet to be twinkles in my children's eyes; a collector's item, indeed.

I don't recall if I kept my copy of the September 12, 2001 New York Times, but I was numb then. Nevertheless, my daughter recently told me that for some reason she'd kept a copy of the paper announcing Princess Diana's death. My daughter was almost fourteen years old at the time and I hadn't known her to pay a whole lot of attention to what was going on beyond her circle of friends. Perhaps the overkill media explosion covering such a sad occasion made her feel she wanted to be a part of something bigger. It's probably why I looked forward to receiving the tenth anniversary edition of We Interrupt This Broadcast, (Sourcebooks Media Fusion) a book that also includes three CDs with the actual broadcasts of the events covered in the book. This new edition now includes the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hurricane Katrina and the massacre at Virginia Tech. As I was leafing through the book, I realized the first memory I have of a major news story is the Cuban Missile Crisis. Well, I suppose I really cannot say that I remember the actual news story, but I do recall its consequences when my first-grade teacher instructed my classmates and me how to hide under our desks in case a bomb was heading in our direction. When sharing this recollection, most of my friends have the same memory.

We Interrupt This Broadcast with a foreword by Walter Cronkite is now on my coffee table. I'm sure when I have over a dozen or more guests for Thanksgiving someone will be sure to pick it up and, after looking at any number of the photos, will want to offer his or her own memory from any one of the events that suddenly divided our lives into before from after. It's that sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves. What is interesting is that besides friends from here in the States, I'll be hosting friends from various parts of the world, from England to Mexico to Brazil and, yet, the images of the fiery Hindenburg, the moon landing, or the tumbling Berlin wall is something that at least one of us sitting around the table eating turkey will have a memory to share from one or more of the major events from the book. But I am sure, too, that we will discuss this recent election and what it means, not only for people of color, but for the country as a whole. It's certain that President-elect Barack Obama's image will not be gazing at us from some photo hanging from my dining room wall, but I do plan to invite my guests to raise a glass to new beginnings and what I consider a very hopeful step for our country.