FWIW, I thought I'd share my story that started during my Senior year of High School..... I'll title this "From Young Republican to Barack".
In Jan. 1973, shortly after turning 18, I attended a 5 day youth leadership conference in Washington DC. 300 High School and college kids from all over the country took over the Holiday Inn near Catholic University. The group was Young Republicans -- and this event was centered around President Nixon's 2nd Inaugural. Two kids from Washington State (including myself) accepted invitations and attended.
It was certainly a trying time for our country. At the time of our meetings, etc. hundreds of thousands of young Americans were also gathering in D.C....... to protest the war.
I'm from a small town in Southwest Washington -- and this D.C. experience had a lot of "firsts" for me. This was my first exposure to African Americans, and it was also my first real exposure to the peace movement (visiting the Mall and seeing the mass of humanity expressing their views on the war was incredibly impressive).
I had a great time in D.C. and I learned some things that I still use today (part of the meetings were training sessions by the folks that have classes with Freshmen congressmen/women on getting things done). I also got a chance to meet and shake hands with the President of the United States (which was pretty cool).
I'm now 53, and over the years I've slowly shifted my position -- and while I still have conservative blood in me -- I am of the belief that the "right" has gone waaay too far right (my opinion). I've learned to believe that the war protesters I encountered in DC and on the mall were also Patriots who disagreed with government on the most important issue of the time (again, my opinion).
In addition, I married a beautiful woman of color -- and have grown a great deal in my appreciation of the multi-cultural aspect of our nation. One of my favorite possessions is an autographed copy of a biography of a family member (by marriage) -- "Have No Fear -- the Charles Evers story" This is an incredibly important part of American History -- as Charles took over the work of his brother shortly after Medger was assassinated. Charles has been an advisor to 5 United States Presidents, and he's one of the coolest people around.
I have worked on various campaigns over the years (including this one), and of course have voted in each election. I've never been prouder of a vote that I've cast than the one I submitted last week for Barack Obama.
In January, it will be 36 years since I attended President Nixon's Inauguration.
I am incredibly hopeful that my wife and I will be able to complete my circle and journey east to attend President Barack Obama's Inauguration. That is my hope.
Thanks for listening.