This piece was published in the Pasadena Star-News on November 15, 2020.
Every generation has defining moments that live in their collective memory forever. I was in history class in junior high on November 22, 1963, when a teacher came to the classroom door and said President Kennedy was shot. Six years later, in 1969, the entire nation watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. More recently, the twin towers fell in Manhattan on September 11, 2001.
My three grandchildren, all under age ten, will remember the day Joseph R. Biden became the 46thpresident of the United States and they danced in the street along with their parents, and millions of others. They will remember watching Kamala Harris become the first female Vice President. They don’t understand quite yet that a shattered glass ceiling is a good thing, but for their parents and me, it was glorious. That Harris powered through that ceiling during the centennial year of women’s suffrage was an added delight.
My grandchildren’s childhood will be marked by the pandemic the same way the Depression impacted my parents, who were born in 1920. They don’t understand it now, but they are living through a time when our democracy was at risk of being destroyed if Trump had won. They don’t know why the grownups were glued to their television sets, staring at maps, and looking very worried. But when the celebrations started they knew everything was OK.
They will remember not being able to go to school, to play sports, or to be in the school play. They will remember the stress in their families while they were cooped up in the house. When they get older and study history, they will learn that the pandemic that upended their childhood could have been stopped much sooner if there had been a competent president.
This generation of young people is taking to the streets quite frequently. My six-year-old grandson attended the Women’s March on January 21, 2016, along with his mother and me. We represented three generations of Americans who were part of the largest protest in American history.
My two grandchildren in Brooklyn will remember standing outside their apartment building, clapping and cheering for their daddy, who is an RN, and all the other essential workers who bravely fought COVID-19 month after month while the president said it would just go away and did nothing.
After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, the students organized the largest single day of protest against gun violence in history, according to the United Nations Association of the United States of America. That summer the students organized a tour of the country called on the “Road to Change” and registered over 50,000 voters along the way. This year they are old enough to vote for the first time.
For my young grandchildren, the joyous street party was a victory dance for democracy.
Joe Biden will restore dignity to the office of the President.
Kamala Harris will break new ground at the highest level of government.
My granddaughter will see that women in government stand shoulder to shoulder with men.
My two grandsons will see that men and women can work together as equals with mutual respect.
These are times of biblical proportions. From 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We chose love.
There is a new, even better world ahead for them in a democracy that they will have to continue to fight for. They have learned from a tender age that change happens when they make their voices heard and when they vote. And then . . . they party.
Kathleen Vallee Stein