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Tales About His Father

Maybe it's because I was watching the thing on a balky online video stream, but I wasn't that impressed by any of the speeches in the Obama-Kennedy event. Until, that is, Obama got to the end of his*, when he added this incredible coda to the already incredible story about his father:

It’s about whether we’re going to seize this moment to write the next great American story. So someday we can tell our children that this was the time when we healed our nation. This was the time when we repaired our world. And this was the time when we renewed the America that has led generations of weary travelers from all over the world to find opportunity, and liberty, and hope on our doorstep.

One of these travelers was my father. I barely knew him, but when, after his death, I finally took my first trip to his tiny village in Kenya and asked my grandmother if there was anything left from him, she opened a trunk and took out a stack of letters, which she handed to me.

There were more than thirty of them, all handwritten by my father, all addressed to colleges and universities across America, all filled with the hope of a young man who dreamed of more for his life. And his prayer was answered when he was brought over to study in this country.

But what I learned much later is that part of what made it possible for him to come here was an effort by the young Senator from Massachusetts at the time, John F. Kennedy, and by a grant from the Kennedy Foundation to help Kenyan students pay for travel. So it is partly because of their generosity that my father came to this country, and because he did, I stand before you today – inspired by America’s past, filled with hope for America’s future, and determined to do my part in writing our next great chapter.

Sort of makes the whole "Man from Hope" story--to say nothing of the "Wife of the Man from Hope" story--pale pail** pale*** by comparison, doesn't it?

*--These were the remarks as prepared for delivery. If I remember correctly, in the actual speech Obama added a few words--about how his grandmother lived in a shack without plumbing--that made the story even more powerful. 

**--Doh! Thanks stgla. 

***--Right the first time. Thanks reganad. Last time I listen to you, stgla. 

--Jason Zengerle