"Yeah today is special for me. I am black. But it is not just that, it is that he (Obama) didn't use being black as an excuse for not becoming everything he could be. He just fought and fought and finally made his way to the top. That is what true success is, regardless of your color."
These profound and deeply insightful words were shared with me today by Ed, the Time Warner Cable installation contractor. While he was hooking up my cable, CNN's coverage was playing in the background. The above quote was in response to my question of whether seeing Obama elected was significant for him personally.
Ed grew up in a military family and was a star running back for his high school. His father was an ultimate disciplinarian as were his football coaches. Ed had a significant career in the military himself and the precision with which he did his work was a testament to his training and life experiences.
It was the way in which Ed shared this thought with me that got me thinking today. On a day when we celebrate the beginning of a new era in our countries history, but a day in which a fight that has spanned generations has seen a resolution. A fight that has brought on significant casualties and hurt thousands in the deepest way has been silenced. A fight that still rages in many parts of the world where the truth that "all men were created equal" is not acknowledged. Today I saw what that fight looks like in the eyes of Ed. That it is not an excuse or a cop out for not achieving your dreams. Race slowed Ed down. Race is the reason that Ed had to reapply to the Jump school. Race is the reason that Ed didn't make the Green Berets his first time out. Race is the reason that he wasn't drafted like the less talented running backs at his highschool in the deep south. But race was also the fuel for the God given fire that already burned in his belly to overcome.
So on this day of unity and peace, I had my own moment of clarity with Ed, the 53 year old cable installation contractor. We both knew that today was a significant day, especially for anyone who has what it takes to fight.
"The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion." - Abraham Lincoln