Friday, November 7, 2008

I Needed to Say This

This is not the usual PRIMER-Connecticut blog entry, but a good friend of mine, Deacon Arthur Miller, wrote this after Tuesday's election and I thought the more people who see it, the better.

One added, personal thought: it's wonderful that this election made this difference, but it's also sad.

I needed to say this:

I have ruminated… deeply…deeply ruminated within the depths of my soul why. Why now am I different? After all, I spent four years serving this country during the Viet Nam war. I would have died for the people and idea of this country called America. So why now am I different? I always stood along side others at football games or at school pledging allegiance or singing about the home of the free…Yes I always stood, but proudly? Then, I ask…Why now am I different?

Great-great-great granddad Hiram fought for the union in the war that Lincoln said freed us.

Uncles and cousins…my brother…my son served this country. Why now am I different?

Maybe it's all those scars, not on my skin but in my heart, in my bones, in my sinew, in my remembrances, Dr. King, James Meredith, George Wallace, Bull Connor, Little Rock nine.

Vicious fire hoses held by adult firemen spraying water on children. Police men with their dogs grabbing children with American flags in their hands because they wanted to be Americans. A black man being struck by a white teenager…he struck that black man with the American flag… The flag that I saluted, the flag that I fought for…that my son fought for…that my brother fought for…that my ancestors fought for. Then why now am I different?

Those scars put a strange membrane around me and mine… It insulated me from America. I fought for it…paid taxes for it…sang the songs and pledged the pledge. I did it all while looking at white folk's teary eyes for a beloved country that I saw, that I lived in, but I was invisible to, unless some black fool did something ignorant…Then oh yes then I was always visible. Having to answer questions about why do my people…? Or drove in a town where we didn't live… Or walked into a restaurant where we didn't go…or into a meeting where I was the only one…Those meetings where all the eyes turned and conversations stopped, Oh yea I was truly visible then.

That membrane not only insulated me from America…but it insulated America from my love… America, why now am I different?

Because America apologized, America apologized without knowing how much I needed that… America apologized to me without knowing it. America apologized for my scars…the scars that I have endured, the scars that my mother bore, the scars that my father bore…the scars of all those who suffered, whose yearnings to be free were denied.

America apologized even though many do not believe she needed to apologize. But that's ok too because America apologized anyway.

America, magnificent America lived up to what it started out to be and became in one night what it had never been. In one night a people were healed. That healing will unleash a love and patriotic fervor it did not know existed… The face of America has changed, it has become wider and broader and now includes all of me.

That is why I am now different. Today for me and those who preceded me, for those black and brown children who follow me… You're freed from the past scars of our generations… It was all done for you.

Go out and love this country…fight for this country…Pledge and sing, for America is now beautiful for all of its children.

Deacon Art Miller

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