All Americans should be proud of last week’s presidential election. The nation made a choice of Barack Obama as president of the United States forever leaving behind the notion that our country was too racist to elect a person of African-American heritage.

Of course, I was not surprised that America elected a person of color to the highest executive office in the land, it is a very American thing to do.

While we have a history that has been oppressive to African-Americans as well as other minorities, still America’s very founding was based on liberty and equality.

Once when I was a very young boy, my mother took me to Duke University Hospital for a check-up by our doctor. As we sat in the waiting room I spotted a water fountain and decide to have a drink of water. There was a little footstool next to one of the fountains and I pushed it over and climbed up to have a drink. Suddenly, a man grabbed me by the arm and pulled me off the stool. I was shocked and afraid, looking around for my mother. She was standing right behind me, glaring harshly at the man holding my arm. I don’t remember what was said but I knew that the man and my mother had heated words. After the man returned to his seat, my mother lifted me up with her arms so I could have my sip of water. She then held my hand and we sat back down.

Years later I would understand why the man had pulled me from the fountain. Back in the days of “separate but equal,” places like Duke had two water fountains, one mark “Whites,” and one marked, “Colored.” Being a child, I was ignorant to the prejudice that surrounded even water fountains. Once as an adult recalling the incident I ask my mother which fountain she lifted me to drink from? She replied, in her sly, stoic way, “The one with water.”

Our nation has, at times, a dreadful record when it comes to race and one can only pray that this will be another step toward healing the lingering divide.

Also atop that prayer list is how to end the divisive practice of identity politics?

Nothing was gained by separate but equal and nothing is to be gained by equal but separate.

Given human nature, we have come a long way from the darker days of the republic and still there are many miles to go. It is always important to look to our past as philosophy seeking wisdom rather than as a rules looking for amendment. We must take insight from our failings and not revenge for them.

While many citizens have reservations as to how Mr. Obama will govern, we all should no doubt be pleased that our democracy still lives. It is the strongest and best example in the world and Mr. Obama’s election is a witness to the process. Today we all drink from the same fountain.

There are many unknowns concerning Mr. Obama, who he really is, what he really believes and what is his core character?

One can’t help but feel that we have witnessed a bizarre episode of American Idol in which the future of the presidency has been decided. While I like to believe that all of us are smarter than any of us, I cannot help but worry that the wisdom of the multitude, is in fact the caprice of the crowd.

Of course, I have never subscribed to the notion that our countries leaders are divinely inspirited. Therefore, my expectations are that they will serve the will of man and nothing more.

There are also many who are worried that Mr. Obama will lead the country away from what they believe are its Christian ideals. To that I would like to say, whenever a believer places their faith in princes, presidents or kings the foundation on which they stand is less than sand.

In Timothy 2 it reads, I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made in behalf of all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority;

Why? …in order that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and gravity.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is commemorated every November 11. It is a day we set aside to honor our living veterans. It is hard to imagine an American who does not personally know a veteran. Whenever I would take my dad to the VA hospital in Birmingham it was always proud to be in the company of those who had served our country. Today, we use the word hero with a frequency that tends to diminish its meaning. But as a young boy and now a man I knew that those in uniform had made a commitment worthy of honor. Not all who have served in the armed forces were bloody in battle, there have been barbers and dentists whose biggest worry was a nip or a bite but they made their sacrifice for our country. My dad was a veteran of WWII he was an anti-aircraft machine gunner. He loved the military and said many times that the Army was his first real home. Like many vets, my dad didn’t talk much about the war, oh, he would tell funny things that happened like finding a crate of French wine and liberating it in the name of freedom loving people everywhere. As he aged he did talk more about the war. At times I could hear sadness in his voice a mixture of loss and regret. I think he missed his youth most of all and the regret seemed to come from a place that we all go to in the wee hours of the night when we question who we are and how we have lived.

Like many of my dad’s generation, he is gone now; he lives only in my memory. But those who are alive and remain, the men and women who have served, deserve our unyielding support and gratitude. We are all the better for their having lived.

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