On an April evening in 1974, my white, ultra-conservative, Republican grandfather sat with me and my white little brothers in rapt attention awaiting the moment when Hank Aaron would break the home-run record — and rejoicing at that majestic swat.
On a November evening in 2008, I sat transfixed before the screen, tears on my pale cheeks as I watched Barack Obama receive the accolades of the cheering throng upon word that he had won the presidency. (Though I voted for his opponent, and vigorously disagree with virtually everything he has done since, I still think that was a great and important moment for our country.)
Now both men diminish themselves and their legacies by using the bigotry of a few to paint their political opponents–dismissing half of the country with a word, rather than engaging in a legitimate contest of ideas.
I will still treasure those peak moments, and attribute the rest to the fallen nature of man.