Spirits soared and spirits poured in La Manzanilla during the televised inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20. Palapa Joe’s opened early to accommodate the standing room only crowd to view the swearing in and the new President’s speech.
Like its counterpart communities on the Pacific Coast of the United States, La Manzanilla tends to lean left, so the mood was effervescent. Almost as many Canadians as expat and vacationing Americans were on hand, and even a few Mexicans stopped by. They share our borders and they shared our joy on an historic day.
Applause, cheers, rapt attention, and a roomful of smiles marked the event. Tears, as well. “I cried through five big napkins, I’m so happy for Americans and the world,” said Jose Rodgers. And she’s from Powell River, British Columbia.
Pride, elation, and relief were the sentiments of the day. Nancy and Larry Chamberlain, long-time winter residents from Asheville, North Carolina, said, “This is a crowning achievement for America, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”
Andrew and Ilene Harris, visiting from Lake Oswego, Oregon, said they were both touched and hopeful. “We are so pleased that faith and trust have been restored in our highest office. It’s long overdue.” Former Color Guard member on duty for many military funerals, George Shepard from Hood River, Oregon, said he was pleased that ‘America has honor once more.’
Everyone agreed that it felt wonderful to be hopeful again. For many people, the past eight years saw the United States plunged to unimaginable depths, both at home and around the globe. “This is a new beginning,” said Tom Lindsay on holiday from Guemes Island, Washington. “I have hope again.” Native American Indian, Rebecca Wolfchild, a regular visitor from Yellow Knife, Northwest Territories, added, ‘I feel like there’s hope now for any race, creed, or color.”
Americans in La Manzanilla celebrated with Americans all over the world. “It’s the perfect day for champagne,” declared Pam Theriault, almost all-time resident from Vashon Island, Washington. “Say Amen!” said Hilary Herman, who prefers to spend her birthdays here rather than in Chico, California, borrowing the line from Rev. Joseph Lowery’s inauguration benediction.
My personal favorite quote to assess what the United States accomplished with the election and inauguration is from Bono, lead singer for Irish rock group U2. When asked by Brian Williams in an NBC interview how he thought the rest of the world perceived the new president, Bono said, “…(Barack Obama) proves that America exists.”
Originally published as La Manzanilla Memo, Guadlalajara Reporter, January 31, 2009 issue.
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