I am in my living room in my pajamas at 11:17 a.m. on Inauguration Day crying my eyes out. There are many reasons to be moved today, but I am overwhelmed by an email I just read from my Dad, Mat Thorp, DC native, World War II veteran and long-time Republican voter. He was commenting on an email I sent him last night about all the things I had been doing this weekend and my plans for today. He wrote: “Our new President would be proud of your diligence.”
“Our new President” did me in because those three words tell you so much about my Dad. My Mom and Dad believed in voting and in contributing however you could. They were not activists the way we think of them in my world, but I have learned to see how their influence shaped my life. They saw government and military careers as a noble calling. They raised us to watch NASA launches because they were enormous human achievements by some of our brightest minds. They always voted, even when they had to vote absentee because Mom was not able to get around. As a DC resident most of his life, Dad couldn’t vote until 1964 so he takes the privilege seriously. In 1976, the first year I was eligible to vote, he said “I don’t care what Communist you vote for, just vote.”
Despite being a McCain supporter, Dad spent this election season – all 2 years of it – proud of the enthusiasm and effort on the part of my friends and his, too. Right now he is at the home of my college buddies and our dear friends-like-family Sylvia and Hugh partying with friends who live in that part of town – Democrats all. He’s the one who taught me the beauty of the peaceful transition of power. In his Parade magazine letter to his daughters this weekend, Our New President said “ ...it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.” Now I know where I heard that idea before.
The foundation of the democratic system is that today, Barack Obama is indeed “Our President,” no matter who you are. My Mom, Lynnette Wilson Thorp, born and raised in Yell County, Arkansas would be beside herself. Thanks Dad for being a role model for all of us. You are a class act.