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Me & Garcia, Morro Bay

My BFF is at the Obama Inauguration...

Posted on 2009.01.19 at 08:51

...and has promised, due to my great national service, she'd bring me back the tackiest souvenir she could find.

Which shouldn't be too difficult.

So, I'll get to Marg Helgenberger's Awesome Inaugural Adventure, and my national service in a moment. But first, I'd like to talk about how incredibly weepy I've been for the past few days.

My friend, the greatest 6th grade teacher on earth, Mrs. Meagher of room #208, Hayt Elementary, Chicago -

- told me that tomorrow, her kids will be wearing the commemorative Abe Lincoln stovepipe hats they made, while watching the inauguration on TV. Mrs. Meagher will be - and I quote - "Crying and handing out Twinkies."

So why all the weeping? For me, I think it's largely profound relief. After eight years in the wilderness, we are returning to the land of reason.

But there are other reasons.

For example, as the Obama Train traveled to pick up Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, where I used to live, it slowed down through Claymont, Delaware, where I also used to live. People were standing along the railroad tracks, waving at Obama.

In 1968, I stood along those same railroad tracks, watching a very different train go by. It was Bobby Kennedy's funeral train, on its way to DC, and as it slowed, we could see the flag-draped coffin, the servicemen from each branch of the military standing guard, and there was no joy on that day.

Same place, different time. This time, so much joy. So what's a gal to do? Cry.

I cried yesterday during the big concert at the Lincoln Memorial, when Pete Seeger, who'd been blacklisted in the 50's, took the stage with Bruce Springsteen to sing what he called "the greatest American folk song of all time."

It was, of course, "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie. This is Pete literally sitting at Woody's feet. To see Pete Seeger singing yesterday at the feet of Lincoln, continuing that line, from the music of the hills, through Woody Guthrie and on to inauguration day...yup. I got weepy.

So, tomorrow, as I sit on my sofa in the early morning, the day after Martin Luther King Day, and watch Barack Hussein Obama take the Oath of Office, I'm sure I'll be a complete puddle.

And I'm also sure I won't be alone.

I'm guessing Marg will be a tad verklempt as well, sitting out there in the cold, witnessing the event in person.

She's there in Washington because months ago, before anyone knew who was going to win the election, she was asked by the National Commander of the American Legion, Dave Rehbein, to emcee the American Legion's Salute to Heroes Veteran's Banquet and Ball. This celebration salutes all recipients of the Medal of Honor - http://www.medalofhonor.com - which is our nation's highest military honor.

Marg was thrilled and honored and of course said yes.

But what, you may ask, is the connection between the star of CSI and our nation's most highly decorated veterans?

BEFORE CSI, Marg starred on a little show you all may have heard of called CHINA BEACH.

That's Marg in front, in the bikini. They had her in a bikini as often as they could justify such a thing.

CHINA BEACH was set in an evac hospital during the Vietnam war, and this has made Marg VERY popular with our vets. In addition, she's from a small Nebraska town just a few miles from the small Nebraska town from which Commander Rehbein hails. Bingo. Emcee.

The day before this glamourous event, Martin Luther King Day, she'll be visiting the soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, which is without a doubt, her great national service. She's visited the wounded before, and it is, as you may well imagine, an intensely emotional experience. And she is always happy to do it.

So where do I come in to all of this, and what EXACTLY is my national service?

Marg was presented with a speech to make at the banquet and, well....it just didn't sound like her AT ALL.

So I rewrote it for her.

Tacky souvenir, here I come!!!

Traditionally, the Salute to Heroes Ball is one of the events where the President and First Lady make an appearance.

And perhaps Marg will get to shake their hands, say hello, wish them well.

As do we all.

Me? I've got my box of tissues ready.

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