Our grocery stores will have stocked shelves.
There will be parades on the Fourth of July. Our electricity will flow. The Bachelor will deliver plenty of drama. And there will be heroes.
We know that in the darkest hour, a hero will emerge and rescue us. If not rescue us, then take us by the collective hand, guide us and show us the way through, to safety.
When the U.S. declared independence from Britain, it was audacious and hopeless. It should have never succeeded. We were undermanned, undersupplied, and undertrained. In that moment, at our birth as a nation, when we wailed the cry of a newborn, a hero rose up, stepped forward, and despite his own modesty, led us to victory.
“This great man was agitated and embarrassed, more than ever he was by the levelled Cannon or pointed Musket.” ~ Pennsylvania Senator, speaking of George Washington at his inauguration.
Washington appeared and acted on our behalf. Here was a man, now proven by the test of time to be among the greatest leaders and statesmen in world history, right on time, our humble avenger, when we needed one most.
A century after Washington, when we went to war with ourselves, the very existence of our republic was threatened. State fought state, brother against brother. Most certainly, it should have brought about the bloody end of the American experiment.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” ~ Abraham Lincoln at the close of his first inaugural address, hoping to avoid civil war.
From poverty and through adversity, our hero dusted off his black hat, groomed a scraggly beard, stood erect, and spoke words that stitched us back together. He forced his vision upon us and never ceased to champion not who we were, but who we would become.
Years after Lincoln, when racism stunted us and threatened to defeat us, our hero walked from behind the curtain of anonymity and four times, ascended the gold medal platform in the darkest of dark places—Nazi Germany.
“Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it.” ~ Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens, an Olympic gold medalist, son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, was made to order: talented, determined, and strong enough to show us the way through a hurricane of hate and ignorance.
From our birth, we have come to expect a hero to rise and do what needs doing.
Now, our nation is fractured. Bleeding. Hemorrhaging hope.
Our eyes scan the horizon, our steadfast gaze fixed upon the golden glow, that place from which our heroes have always emerged.
And we wait.
It’s what we are accustomed to here, in the land of the free.
Here in the murk between election and inauguration, our darkness feels dark. As if its equal has never blotted our spacious skies, blighted our amber waves of grain, or muted our fruited plains.
Where is our hero? Show yourself. Please.
Heroes like Washington and Lincoln and Owens are not conjured. They are forged. They are not what we need when we find them, but they discover greatness in their struggle to guide us. That is why they win us. It is why we love them, why we follow.
In this moment of national distress, we hope.
So, who will it be? Who can it be?
He fits what we are accustomed to here, in the home of the brave. The one who is raw and savage and untested, but strong.
Now, as the bugle echoes, we, the people, look to you, Mr. Trump.
We, the people, wait for your inauguration. We, the people, will listen. We, the people, ache to hear humility in the fashion of Washington. We, the people, strain to hear words that bind us, mend us, unite us in the fashion of Lincoln. We, the people, want to believe in our goodness again, our greatness as a good people. Tell us, bolster us, remind us in the fashion of Owens.
It is what our heroes have done.
It is what we are accustomed to, here, in the United States of America.
Author: John Geers
Image: Mobilus In Mobili/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman