So, today is the Inaguration of Barack Obama's second term as the 44th President of the United States.
That brings up a trivia question. Which Presidents have taken the oath of office four times? Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt because he was elected four times; Obama because the first time the Chief Justice rearranged the order of the oath and they redid it a couple of days later, and, the Constitution stipulates the oath be administered on the 20th of Januray which fell on a Sunday this year and, therefore, will be repeated today.
To the point of today's ceremony. I'm remembering Lucius, whom I've written about in blogs years ago. Lucius was my friend in the eighth and ninth grades. I met Lucius often after school. I got off my bus and waited for him to arrive on his bus. We'd share a coke behind Cheek's Store and then we'd head to an open field to practice baseball. Lucius never went into the store to get a coke. I got it for him. Lucius didn't ride my bus. We rode separate buses. Lucius didn't go to my school. Lucius, you see, was black. I was, and am, white.
When we were in the eighth grade. My grandfather took me to the big Sears store. Lucius Dad took him to the same store on the same day. We encountred each other and started sharing stories as his dad and my grandfather shopped. While we were talking, I leaned over and took a drink of water from the water fountain. A man grabbed me in a violent manner and proclaimed, “What the hell do you think you're doing?”
I didn't repond. I didn't have to. My grandfather hit him in the back of his head so hard he fell to the ground. “Keep your hands off that boy,” he exclaimed.
“But he was drinking from the Colored Fountain,” the man justified.
My grandfather then told the man in no uncertain terms what would happen if the man ever touched me again. The man left. And then my grandfather admonished Lucius' father that if Lucius and I were to be friends we needed to be more careful.
It's a long way from that segregated day to this Inaguration Day. But it's only the distance of an old parson's lifetime.
And so, today, as Barach Hussein Obama once again takes the Oath of Office for the President of the United States, I'll remember how far we've come. And as I hear the inuendos of my church membres and certain elements of my community reacting to this event, I'll realize how far we have to go.
Ah, Lucius, who would have ever imagined we'd live in such a time?