Le Plus Beau Moment

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Here’s what I wore to the Inaugural Ball, which I described to various reporters as “le plus beau moment de ma vie,” the best moment of my life.

The fact that our inaugural festivities took place in Avignon instead of Washington didn’t matter a bit; we watched America celebrate on a huge screen, in real time, we cheered for Aretha’s indomitable soul, commiserated with Michelle for those blocks walked in tortuous high heels, stood to sing the national anthem, and listened to our new President describe the hard work ahead with our hearts full of hope, just as you did.

There were many French people at our inaugural party, which surprised me.   When I asked them why they’d come, they universally said that this was a very important moment for France, for Europe, for the world.  It was a great reminder that it’s not just our private party, our personal celebration of having finally outgrown our dark and too-narrow past, that, in fact, the whole world is watching.  There were a lot of reporters at the party too, which really surprised me.  They wanted to know what the night meant to us, what we thought of Barack’s inaugural address, how we felt about having a black President, and contrary to what one would expect of the fashion-conscious French, not one asked what we thought of Michelle’s dress.

The music was good, with the French musicians launching valiantly into an eclectic selection of American favorites.  First on the list was We Shall Overcome, a song I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but sung last night with a twist: no more we shall overcome some day, but instead, a ringing “we have overcome today.”  I don’t think any of us believed, deep in our hearts, that it’s all been overcome, but it felt good to sing.  It felt very good.

The party rocked, the wine was excellent, as French wine is, and it flowed freely, American style.  I heard myself saying that it was the best moment of my life, and I wondered privately if I might have been exaggerating a bit.  Mais non, que nenni, and nope, not at all, I decided after a moment’s reflection.  Because in truth I feel that the days formerly known as my personal best have been beautifully eclipsed by a day that is so manifestly the best for my country, and so much in the best interest of my world.

At the end of one interview the reporter asked me, just for the record, if I were American.  “Américaine, et fière de l’être” I replied.  American, and proud to be one.  That felt good to say, and I can’t remember the last time I said it.  Nor can I remember the last time everyone called the President of the United States by his first name.  But although we’ve heard a lot of “go Barack” and “go Michelle” in the past few months, it is with the greatest pleasure that I now say “you go, Mr. President!”

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6 Comments on “Le Plus Beau Moment”

  1. Heinz Says:

    Congratulations on your President Barack H. Obama. He made a great speech which raise our hopes for future international relationships between all countries. We are pretty sure that Barack’s inauguration will mark the dawn of a good and successful new era.

    Hugs Christine & Heinz

  2. Nancy Says:

    Oh, I am SO proud of my country! Once again I’ll be able to hold my head high and say with pride, “Sí” or “Aywa” or “Oui”, depending on where I land next time I cross a water and someone asks if I’m from the United States. Yes I am, and at last we are joining the rest of the world.

    It was a lovely, festive day with a compelling inaugural address. I hope that this spirit of collective optimism, the best that this country has to offer, can buoy us up through the challenges ahead.

  3. Jim Says:

    Amen, Abra! It was a long, long, long 8 years…and I am simply grateful that I lived long enough to see our country turn the corner. I might just go out and find myself one of those flag lapel pins…..

    Jim

  4. Eden Says:

    “Because in truth I feel that the days formerly known as my personal best have been beautifully eclipsed by a day that is so manifestly the best for my country, and so much in the best interest of my world.”
    Thank you, that is a truly beautiful phrasing of this sentiment so many of us are feeling.

  5. Margaret Pilgrim Says:

    Once again you’ve got it right and described it right. We, in San Francisco, received 3 emails and a postcard from French friends who needed to join in our celebration. It’s a great day indeed!

  6. Wendy Miller Says:

    Look at you getting quoted in the paper!

    so glad you were able to celebrate the day!


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