Here Comes the Sun by
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Prompted By Inaugurations

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I watched the horror of Trump’s attempt to steal the election he soundly lost by inviting white supremacist, alt-right, and QAnon groups to D.C. on January 6 and unleashing them on our Capitol. He promised it would be “wild,” and urged them to fight harder, be strong, and do whatever needed to be done to “stop the steal.” As more videos come to light every day, I realize how close we came to the unthinkable. If they found Mike Pence, would they have hanged him? Would they have kidnapped Nancy Pelosi? Assassinated AOC? Could they have taken over Congress and prevented Biden’s electoral victory from being certified? Could they have staged a successful coup and installed Trump for a second term, or for life?

When Jon Bon Jovi kicked off the evening’s entertainment singing Here Comes the Sun as the Florida sun rose in the background, I felt the optimism that comes with a sunrise after a dark and stormy night.

We all know the cast of characters now: The bare-chested Viking Q-Shaman who took over the speaker’s podium. The man who put his boots up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk and ransacked her office. The guy who carried the Confederate flag into the Capitol. The domestic terrorist carrying zip ties into the Senate Chamber. The guy in the “Camp Auschwitz” hoodie. A bunch of “really fine people” egged on by Trump.

We were ill prepared, although we still don’t fully know why. These insurrectionists came too close for comfort to overthrowing our government. Now, we have to deal with a former president who committed sedition in his effort to sell the “big lie” by inciting the attack. Trump has the distinction of being impeached twice and his trial in the Senate will likely encourage more rioting and rebellion. But it must be done.

As I wrote in an earlier piece about Joe Biden’s inauguration, The Inauguration Set Me Free, “I didn’t expect to weep. I know I’ve been stressed, mostly due to the pandemic, I thought. But watching the inauguration, I started to cry and realized that four years of Trump had taken its toll on my soul. The chaos, cruelty, greed, and lack of basic decency and empathy made every day, every tweet, every anxious checking of the day’s news an agony. It was a burden to which I had become so accustomed that its weight and the pain it caused became part of my life.”

Thinking back, there were very few inaugurations in my lifetime that mattered as much to me as the most recent ones of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I have no memory of watching either of Eisenhower’s inaugurations, but I will never forget President Kennedy’s. He was young, handsome, vigorous, and married to the glamorous Jackie. On Inauguration Day, January 20, 1961, I watched as nearly one million people came to D.C. in frigid weather to celebrate the new President. Of course, when he famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” I was ready to do something, anything. Of course, I was too young to do much, but I dreamed of the day I would make my contribution.

Sadly, the next inauguration I watched was Lyndon Johnson’s on Friday, November 22, 1963, aboard Air Force One, which was carrying the body of my beloved John Kennedy back to Washington. By the time of Johnson’s second inauguration in 1965, I was pretty bitter about politics. I certainly didn’t watch either of Nixon’s in 1969 or 1973, or Ford’s after Nixon resigned. I don’t remember Carter’s, but I was nine months pregnant when that happened. Reagan and George H.W. Bush were not my candidates, so I likely ignored those. I don’t remember either of Bill Clinton’s, and was not going to watch George Bush’s in 2001 because I wasn’t convinced he had won. At least I didn’t storm the Capitol and try to install Al Gore.

Photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force

When Barack Obama won in 2008, I cried tears of joy as I watched the Grant Park rally on election night. I was convinced our country had evolved. We had elected a charismatic, young Black man. Hope and change were in the air. I had to drink in every word be spoke at his inaugurations in 2009 and 2013. And then came Trump. Instead of watching Trump’s inauguration, I made plans to attend the Chicago Women’s March the next day.

On January 20, 2021, I was glued to my television all day and into the evening. I cried watching Kamala Harris take the oath. It touched me the same way as the Grant Park rally celebrating Obama’s 2008 victory. I felt hope and change once again. I was proud as a woman to hear Harris addressed as Madam Vice President. When President Biden took the oath of office, more tears. I had been worried something bad might happen, despite the massive security. To hear him deliver a presidential inaugural address filled with hope and love and unity allowed me to lay down the heavy burden I had been carrying since Trump’s campaign and victory over four years ago. Our new President is a man of decency, honor, faith, compassion, and empathy for the suffering his fellow Americans.

I felt such a great release in his words, but there was more to bring me to tears as Amanda Gorman, our youth Poet Laurette and a 22-year-old Black woman, recited her poem, The Hill We Climb. Indeed, we have a hill to climb. From the start of Trump’s reign culminating in the attack on the Capitol, I could not even see the hill. I felt buried under it, my spirit crushed. I slept poorly, felt anxious, fearful, and even sick. I’m not naive. I know we are living in a divided country with the potential for violence, especially from the MAGA crowd. And yet, I am ready to tackle that hill. When Jon Bon Jovi kicked off the evening’s entertainment singing Here Comes the Sun as the Florida sun rose in the background, I felt the optimism that comes with a sunrise after a dark and stormy night.

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real and join my Facebook community.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I am with you 100%, Laurie, as you will see when you read my story. My reactions are very similar to yours. And I highlight the same inaugurations, those for whom I had the same affinity. I burbled and teared up for much of the day.

    I had done a good job of staying in shape and keeping off the weight during the pandemic until the run-up to the election and then, during this unbelievable, chaotic, post-truth time with the Big Lie and the scoundrel and his minions doing all he could to cling to power. Now we find that the Republicans whose very lives were in danger a mere three and a half weeks ago have cow-towed to the bully and his crazed followers because they are craven too. At least Biden and the Democrats hold the majority now. That does bring hope.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I totally agree with you, Betsy. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that most Republicans will not vote to convict Trump or hold him responsible in any way. I know it would be nice to have bi-partisan legislation happen, but we have Kamala to cast that deciding vote, and I think we should use her to make important changes for our country.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    I can just second Betsy’s comments above, Laurie. You have really captured my feelings as well. Joy and relief that Biden and Harris are now in office. But unabated anger at the Republicans who are, at best, spineless, and who also include in their ranks crass and amoral collaborators like Hawley and Cruz, ignorant racists and asssorted nut jobs and, yes, seditionists.

    I just hope, as you quote Bon Jovi singing, it will all end “all right.”

  3. Suzy says:

    Laurie, you and I wrote similar stories this week, although you also did a great job of summarizing the January 6th insurrection, to remind us all of why Biden’s inauguration was such a contrast and such a relief. Thanks for setting it all out so clearly. I missed most of the evening entertainment because I was on a choir zoom, so I didn’t get to hear Bon Jovi. I was confused about the Florida sun rising in the background when it was evening, but it must have been a video taken at another time to illustrate the song.

  4. Marian says:

    Ditto to all, Laurie. Isn’t it amazing how we carried a weight for so long and didn’t even know it? I’m inspired by a friend of mine who has a motto, that despite all the difficulties ahead, you need to be ready to strive and the celebrate. It’s in Hebrew, tof b’yad, which translates roughly as “have a drum handy,” the timbrel that Miriam had with her after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea.

  5. Wonderful story, Laurie. I really related to your feelings while watching the Biden-Harris inauguration. I had tears in my eyes the entire time, sometimes even sobbed. We have been holding so much inside for so long, and holding our breaths. It’s such a relief to feel like we’re finally in good hands, despite or more accurately because of the perils that still exist.

  6. Oh Laurie, your wonderful story almost had me crying again as I too did on the 20th.

    And you as a Chicagoan must have had a special pride during the Obama years.
    I remember election night 2008 watching as a news camera scanned the crowd in Grant Park to find Oprah Winfrey in tears.

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