My nephew Will Doolittle is an editor of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York. Like so many of us, he teared up on election night. But he had a special reason:
I havenít felt this sleepy since 1996, when my daughter Zoe was a baby.
Back then, it was the nighttime excitement of having a newborn in the house that had me drowsing at my keyboard during the day.
When I got up in the night to warm a bottle for her, I would carry her down to the couch and turn on the TV and watch old movies while I fed her. My wife would find the two of us on the couch in the mornings ó the bottle on the floor, Zoe slumbering on my chest.
Now, itís the excitement of the election. I became a political junkie over the past few months ó switching on CNN or MSNBC or C-SPAN every time I walked through the bedroom at home; checking an expanding list of Web sites every time I shifted in my seat at work (maybe something had changed in the last three and a half minutes!); tuning my radio only to POTUS í08, the all-day all-politics station.
Back then, being a new father of a black baby, I was enamored of all things African-American. My infatuation with Zoe spilled over into an immediate affection for anyone with brown skin and curly hair. And the feeling seemed to be mutual. When I went out for walks with Zoe and passed black strangers on the street, their faces would inevitably light up and their eyes soften when they saw us.
It might have been my goofy smiles that moved them, but, more likely, it was the sight of the beautiful child accompanying me.
Zoe is much taller now, and I donít flash that new-dad smile anymore. When she and her sister and her mother and I go out, weíre another family, bound by love and laundry, and thatís how everyone sees us.
Back then, sometimes when I was holding Zoe and trying to put her to sleep, I would read to her Lincolnís Second Inaugural Address, because it was short and beautiful and, more than 130 years later, still resonant with truth.
But, when I reached the part about every drop of blood drawn with the lash being paid by another drawn with the sword, I would always get choked up, sometimes so much so that I couldnít finish.
The last three days have been like that, as I watched Obama speak Tuesday night and saw people in the crowd crying; as I listened to people like Colin Powell talk about the way his entire family, sitting together at home and watching the election returns, wept when they saw Obama had won; as I read essays, even by conservatives, about how wonderful it is that America has elected a black president.
It is not out of happiness for Obama that we weep, but for our country, feeling, in some measure, we are redeemed.