A delegation of 18 Havreites, mostly Havre High students, were in Washington Monday to take part in a celebration of American unity.
The group, brought together by HHS teacher John Ita, witnessed the formal swearing in of President Barack Obama for a second term.
The students were attending the festivities not as a celebration of partisan victory but as a celebration of America and what it stands for.
The 18 didn’t know who was going to win the election when they signed up for the trip. The deadline to register was before the November election.
Student Bryant O’Leary said he made the trip because he wanted to witness history.
The people on the trip could teach us all a lesson.
A recent poll showed that just over half of Americans surveyed were happy or delighted with the inauguration, while most others were disappointed. The poll results mirrored the results of the elections. Obama supporters liked the ceremonies, backers of Mitt Romney did not.
That’s sad, and it probably reflects the more partisan attitude that has marked America in recent years.
Traditionally, the ceremonies have been a time when Americans were united, even if they knew they would plunge into partisan disarray in coming days.
This time, it appears, there wasn’t even a brief respite from the rancor.
This certainly is not the first time. In 2004, the nation was deeply divided over the widening war in Iraq. It’s a pretty good guess that the mood was just as ugly, and Democrats were just as displeased with the second inauguration of George W. Bush.
That’s why the Havre High students have so much to teach us.
They understood that this was a historic moment, a time to set aside our differences not a time of partisan victory.
Others, too, we are glad to say put aside politics to take part in the celebration.
Rep. Steve Daines, Montana’s newly elected Republican congressman, invited Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, as partisan a Democrat as you can find, to join him at the inauguration festivities.
During the parade, Daines rode horseback with Sen. Max Baucus and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Their easy-going attitude during the parade was an encouraging sign after an election that broke all records for contentious behavior.
The actions of the Havre High students and the Montana congressional delegation give us hope that even in the midst of partisan divide, we can pause to celebrate America’s greatness.