Today was a day for the history books. Barack Obama came to Toledo Ohio to unveil his rescue plan for the middle class. The timing couldn't have been better. Ohio is losing jobs at the fastest rate in history and more people are in dire straits than ever before.
But amid the bad economic news, today was a good day. Zavier was there.
Zavier is Caleb and Tiffany Finkenbiner's son. They are a young couple who volunteer here in Defiance, Ohio, at Barack Obama's headquarters. We are a close family at this office, and to see their son at a Barack Obama rally was incredible. Did I mention that Zavier is 4 months old?
Caleb is one of the unemployed middle class. He and Tiffany know what it's like to have to put food on the table with only one income. They are the face of the Obama-Biden campaign.
Obama spoke about the things that, as president, he will do to rescue the middle class, including cutting taxes, eliminating some of the penalties on 401k plans, holding off foreclosures for an extra 90 days if you are working with your lender and are trying to pay for your house, eliminating taxes on unemployment compensation, and providing businesses with a $3,000 credit for the creation of new jobs.
By themselves, these measures sound a note of relief, but add Zavier to the mix, and they take on special meaning. In a country where hope has been in short supply, where the government for the past eight years has seemed removed from the citizens and often dismissive of their everyday concerns, Zavier has the promise of a new start, hope that there can be a better tomorrow for him and for all of us.
As Obama was speaking, I began to watch the crowd of 3,000 supporters, and as I watched, I focused less on what Obama was saying and more on the crowd reaction. I could see by the look on their faces that people are hungry for a real leader: one who recognizes that everyday folks are the ones who matter, a leader who will bring America back from the brink and help to provide us with the certain knowledge that our children (including Zavier) will have a future free of the problems we face at this point in time.
As Obama wrapped up his speech, we noticed an opening on the rope line. We got there as fast as we could. Obama took little Zavier in his arms and gave him a kiss on the head. He rocked and cradled the child, and as he did, I saw the compassion of a father and the promise of a true leader. As he flashed his winning smile, it dawned on everyone around us, including me, that the future President of the United States was holding Zavier. Tiffany cried, and I, in turn cried. We had looked hope in the face and realized that it is possible to embrace that hope and know that America's best days are not behind us. We can be great again. We can redeem our rightful place in the world. We can change things. I know that our lives were changed in an instant yesterday and we are still on a high from it.
We know that for Zavier to have a bright future, we as a country have to be willing to step up and make the change we need happen. It can be done, and I know from personal experience that change comes from within. It won't be easy, but for Zavier and his parents and all other parents like them, we have no choice but to make it happen. Our country is too important and this time is too dire to let this chance slip away.
Hope should never be a dirty word. It is what this country was built on. The future is in our grasp and Zavier is living proof that we can make America a country to be proud of once again. The optimism that is Barack Obama shown brightly today and we were amazed and awed by it. We ended Zavier's day with this chant. "O-H-I-O !! Fired Up, Ready To Go !!"
Thank you Senator Obama for giving us back our country and thank you Zavier for making us focus on why it's so important.