Pardon my familiarity, but I feel as though I know you so well. You are family. You see, in 2000 I was a reluctant voter, but I just could not ever, EVER, send a democrat to the White House. I was a recent law school graduate and you seemed, well, to have the right ideas, but you had a hard time expressing them in a way that I felt would reach as many people as possible. I had friends who just couldn't listen to you...You had my vote, but I was ambivalent about your ability to do the job, to be meaningful, to be a President for the ages.
We coasted on into 2001 and I had no problems with you. I had just had a baby girl, the youngest of five in our family, and my life was gravy. You were superfluous, but I was glad, in a non-aware way, that you were there. On September 11, 2001, my world changed. I awoke to my husband urging me to wake up and turn on the tv...he and our middle-school aged daughter had watched earlier the reports showing the first World Trade Center Tower burning, after a plane had hit it. While they watched, a second plane hit the second tower, live. By the time my husband woke me he had taken our daughter to meet her school bus which took her to a private school some 25 miles away, across a large suspension bridge, into another city. I watched in disbelief and after a bit, my phone rang. It was a good friend, a woman who did child care for my infant daughter, and had taken care of our two older daughters, one who had just boarded a bus to cross a bridge to what now seemed a far-away place.
"Are you going to let her go to school?", she asked. I had to think. "Yes," I said...rationalizing that in the grand scope of things, the suspension bridge my daughter had to cross was small potatoes for terrorists who were now going after American icons...the trade towers, the Pentagon...I had to believe my daughter would be safe. She was, and in very much a minority, became a supporter of yours and your administration's position in fighting terrorists where we find them.
Later, I watched footage of you at that elementary school in Florida. I cannot even imagine what went through your mind at the time, but as a leader, you moved forward, fought with your Secret Service detail and returned home to Washington, DC to perform your job....to be our President. I turned on my tv every day looking for reassuring words in a new, dangerous world.
In the years since I have looked at you as a beloved family member. I lost my own father two months before the September 11 attacks, and I have always maintained that it would have killed him; I am glad he moved on before witnessing this event. As a family member, I have loved you, supported you, funded you, voted for you, but I have not always agreed with you. Yet, in those disagreements, I have found understanding, acknowledgement of the basis of your beliefs.
As a taxpayer, well, I can't forget that the money we send to DC is moved toward certain programs, some of which I believe in and some that I don't. Again, even in those that I do not agree with, I understand your compassion and why it is there. Your plan to expose other societies to democracy is admirable, and those that embrace it will be our allies for decades to come. Anyone's failure to see that is shortsided and smarter than everyone else in the room, and I cannot support them. Pell grants for school kids? Interesting...have to see the plan to see if I support it, but maybe it works. Just worried about what it costs. Our education in my area certainly needs help. Vetoing earmarks? GO FOR IT.....Please...I wish you'd been tougher in this area in the past years.
It was lovely seeing Laura and the girls there this evening. I was to watch your speech at an organized event that I have attended the last three years, and due to weather it was cancelled, and I watched at home. BIG mistake. I'm a Mom. I'm a somewhat emotional Mom. When you began your speech, though I knew this long ago, I realized it was the last time I will ever watch you give a State of the Union speech. Was this your best speech? Probably not. You're on your way out, you know it, and while I will never doubt your desire to "get'er done" before you walk out the door there is a finite amount of time until you and Laura retire to the ranch and enjoy more private life...BUT, it hit me when you started. I will never see this again. I sobbed. I hid it fairly well from the rest of the folks in the room, but I have to tell you, I will miss you.
See, like a family member, while we have had our disagreements, you have been my leader, MY PRESIDENT, in some of the most important times in our history. I looked to you to see what kind of world my children will grow up in, and for the most part, I was reassured. There is so much uncertainty in our future. Hillary? Oh, I guess as a woman I feel compelled to apologize for her absolute heinous attitude and posturing during this, AND EVERY OTHER, State of the Union Speech. I don't know what gets into that woman, but I can't stand the thought of watching her in a joint session listening to a speech much less standing where you were....Oh....the nausea.
I will deal with my uncertainty. I will find the right candidate and I will move on. I never thought I'd ever find another President I trusted as much as Ronald Reagan, and you surprised me. You're different, but you earned my trust. I will miss you, but I will persevere. That's what American's do, don't we? Go, have a beautiful wedding with beautiful Jenna, do what you can to keep our country secure, (can we say, FISA?) and while I will bid you a bittersweet farewell after your term, I want you to know that you changed me. You made me believe again, and you reinforced my commitment to family and country.
You will always be that George, family.