- the next door lady crying on her front steps
- my parents watching the TV, Mom crying, and me watching
- attending the funeral (we were on the White House lawn)
- asking many questions about how Johnson actually became president. "How did he know that he was to be president? Who was in charge of making him president?"
Even then, I was curious and awed by the transfer of power. I remain fascinated by it to this day. Johnson to Nixon was a simple election. Nixon to Ford was not simple and more than a few people feared that Tricky Dick might interrupt our centuries of nearly seemless rule of law effectively managing the transfer.
Ford to Carter, Carter to Reagan, Reagan to Bush, Bush to Clinton, Clinton to Bush, and then oops, one of the bigger problems in our history...a disputed Presidential election. The Bush-Kerry election of 2004 with a recount that, if continued, could have swung the election the other way. Massive intervention on the political, legal, and almost from the streets with the crowds. In any case, the moment passed and a decision was reached. It could have been disputed but calmer heads prevailed and the democracy continued under the rule of law.
I will remember that forever as a moment when the rule of law and the transfer of power was not a given in our country.
And now it's happening again. Whatever your politics or perspective, it is truly an awesome thing when the presidential power is transferred from person to person. The American president controls so much power, its just spine tinkling to me to watch the baton get passed with a sense that for all the flaws in our democracy, this fundamental operation works.