Today I saw many things.
I saw my six year old attempt to figure out what tomorrow is all about.
I stood in a crowd of 15,000 people who know what tomorrow is all about.
I heard words come out of the mouths of babes who are confused about what tomorrow is all about.
Today I saw many things...and they brought me to one revelation.
First, my six year old son was full of questions when I picked him up from school. "We had an election in our classroom, Mama, and I voted." He informed me he voted for the one with the M and the girl who is a mom that has a baby. Then he asked me this question: Are all ticks girls?
"All ticks are girls, aren't they?" He asked again.
"I don't understand what you're saying."
"We learned about ticks today in school. All day long we talked about ticks and they were girl ticks."
"I'm very confused, Kyser, please explain to me what you're talking about."
He sighed. "We talked about ticks named Paula all day..."
I said it to myself slowly...ticks...Paula....Paula....ticks..."
He learned about politics. Girl bugs.
He then proceeded to ask me if politics meant fighting. He asked me if one was the good guy and one was the bad guy and if they were going to fight. He asked me if either candidate had any kids.
These were the things that mattered to him, once he found out he wasn't going to have to have a cage match with a female bloodsucker.
I thought about how I had spent the day. My friend Caryn and I went to Jefferson City to hear Sarah Palin speak. Mothers and fathers, children, teenagers, senior citizens, all races and persuasions packed around the steps of the Missouri state capitol to hear a historic address. I heard over 15,000 voices join together to sing our national anthem. I heard a young girl say she felt like she had to be there because this was a historical election. I felt my breath catch in my throat when an elderly gentleman standing close to us wearing a VFW pen replied "every election should be historic." He should know...somewhere along the line he put himself in harm's way so I could attend the event, so that tomorrow I can go cast my vote without putting myself in harm's way.
After the rally I came home and went to pick up Kyser at school where I found some very vocal first graders in the hall waiting for their bus. They were talking about who they had voted for in the mock election. Two of the boys were asking another little boy who he voted for. He wouldn't tell them and then one of the boys said "You better vote for Barack Obama because if you don't that means you are a racist and if you're a racist we ain't gonna play with you anymore."
I saw many things today.
And now I see. I really do see. I see that ours is a generation that doesn't understand how valuable our freedom is because we have never been challenged. I see that we take for granted so many things. I see that our lives and our ideals are not our own but they belong to our children as well, whether we are indoctrinating them or simply living our lives without examining ourselves. I see passion diluted with ignorance and I see ignorance enflamed with anger. I see patriotism and stupidity. I see hands out and I see hands raised.
I see many things now and they lead me to only one conclusion:
America is a beautiful place. It's beautiful because it is made up of people like my son and like those little boys and like Sarah Palin. It's beautiful because of thousands of people standing in line to catch a glimpse of history in the making. It's beautiful because it is flawed and it is flawed because it is comprised of human beings.
Tomorrow I will exercise my right to have a say in what happens to my country, a country that my grandfather fought for in WWII, a country that may disappoint me at times, frustrate me on a regular basis, and forget that I exist because I'm "rural."
I never knew that I was a patriot. I never knew that I understood deep down what a sacrifice getting here was. I never knew until I was just a face in the crowd like I was today. I never knew until I was called upon to explain the basic principles of America to my child. I never knew until I took it personally, not as a white person or a person of color but as an American, when someone implied that selecting a leader for our nation was something that required only as little consideration as the pigment of someone's skin.
Today I saw many things and I learned one: I am a patriot and I will continue to share my heart with America no matter who may be standing beside her and guiding her for the next four years.