I■ By Shellie Milne / Contributed
am thankful to have been able to spend Jan. 20 with my children and show them why we are so blessed to live in the United States of America. It allowed me to express how thankful I am that we live in a place that permits the peaceful transition of power. Sometimes it does not transfer to the candidate of our choice, but aren’t we all glad that it DOES transfer, and that we get to make that choice every four years? Inauguration Day, regardless of the specific president, is a day that we should embrace and reflect upon the good fortune of living in such a tremendous nation.
As our family watched the events throughout the day, it was so uplifting to see all of those who were able to participate in such a historic occasion. What a precious experience it must be for each of those individuals to carry that story with them, and pass down through their generations.
To watch the brave and selfless men and women of our military and law enforcement was inspiring. The bright promise of the young men and women from the different college and high school bands, and the sweet children of the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and 4H groups makes me hopeful; these people are the very definition of America. THEY are what makes America America — not the politicians. We have no idea who they voted for. We don’t know their political preferences. What we do know is that they love their country. They respect their country. They were serving their country and their fellow citizens. Had they not been there, it would have been the political elite patting themselves on the back, giving themselves accolades.
Whether you voted for President Trump or not, his inaugural address contained a very powerful sentence: “Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.”
The question now is: What kind of people are we? Who do we choose to be? My husband and I often tell our children “You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be sad, nobody makes that choice for you.” Do we now, as Americans, choose to support each other, or to abandon one another? We can have differences of opinion, but how do we TREAT each other? Does what we do negatively impact someone else?
A friend of mine wrote that she and her family had the opportunity to attend the inauguration, but she was glad she didn’t attend. I asked her why, thinking it was maybe determined by who was elected. No, it was because of the threats of violence and the agitators. How sad. A family robbed of an experience because of the dreadful actions of others.
Ironically, some of these rioters were chanting about “choice,” yet they were taking the choices of others away. That is not who we are as a country. Yes, we have our own opinions, and, yes, we have a right to express those opinions, but not at the expense of someone else’s liberty. Setting cars on fire does not make you a protester. It makes you a rioter. Throwing water at people and threatening them is not your First Amendment right, it makes you a thug. And none of these examples are representative of who we are as an American people as a whole. We can disagree and still treat one another with respect.
When comparing the participants of the parade and the rioters, I asked my children “Which kind of person would YOU rather be?” Thankfully, they chose the first group.
Another comparison I was able to present my children with was the respectful and honorable actions of President and Mrs. Clinton and the embarrassing conduct of our own Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz. Now I am sure we are all well aware that both the Clintons and Congressman Ruiz have profound policy and personal differences with President Trump, yet the Clintons were gracious and attended the inaugural events. Congressman Ruiz, on the other hand, behaved like a petulant child and refused to participate. He either forgot or ignored the fact that he holds the title of “representative” and that he represents ALL of his district. The time for him to “protest” President Trump is on the House floor, with his votes. One of my children pointed out that “Mrs. Clinton and President Trump fought all the time and she showed up, so why couldn’t he?” That is a very good question.
Again, what kind of person are we going to be? Are we going to show up to support one another, even though we may disagree, or are we going to abandon one another? What example are we setting for the younger generations? Our differences are not new. They are age old. It is the way that we treat each other that has changed. Watching the Trump family yesterday was a bit nostalgic in some ways. The First Lady was stunning in a vintage-esque dress and glove ensemble and seeing the president surrounded by his children and grandchildren was heartwarming.
There is no doubt that we as citizens could bring back the decorum and civility of eras gone by. One may complain of rhetoric coming from our political leaders, but what is OUR excuse? We are privileged to live in this country and, whether we like it or not, we are being watched by others, in other nations, at all times. We are afforded liberties like no other people on earth; how do we exercise those liberties?
President Trump has said he has given the power back to us, but how will we use that power? We should not be caught up in who “won” or “lost,” but rather “watch what we can accomplish together.”