Real Life/Tear Jerker/Politics

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  • "And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've SSSEEEEEEEENNNN the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, WILL GET to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything."
    • You were right, Mr. King. We're almost there now. Killing the man did not destroy the message. (Something for anyone who thinks trying to assassinate Obama might be a good idea to remember).
      • Ironically enough, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King actually did more for racial equality than anyone else: King's speeches were eloquent and would have continued to do much, but his death made him a martyr, which in turn made more people listen to what he had already said.
  • And of course, "That one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers, I have a DREAM today!"
    • This troper was privileged to take an American History college course with an amazing professor who, along with making you work your balls off, showed clips from movies and television to illustrate themes, at a time when this was not often done. He showed the entire "I have a dream" speech from start to finish. About halfway through, I was lip-synching the words and sniffling.
    • Letter From The Birmingham Jail is one of the best pieces of literature this troper has ever read.
    • Also, my dad was present at the "I Have A Dream Speech (we're a white family). His only memory is a lot of black people being really nice to him as he was only 9 years old, but he also has a hand-made pennant as proof that he was there. I'm envious that he was at such a historical event at such a young age.
  • The TV footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall always makes this troper mist up. All the people streaming through the border posts, the utterly baffled looks on the faces of the border guards - just the utter, utter joy of the occasion.

"They took the wall away
Brick by brick it came down again
A Chain reaction, a solemn vow
Who in the world can stop this now?"

      • It was deliberate; the song is T'Pau's "Only a Heartbeat"; there are even more explicit references in the verses:

There's a cry in the dark
and it comes from way across the world tonight.
It's the sound of a drum that beats alone
and knows what isn't right
and from Tiananmen to Timisoara,
across this land
and they took the Wall away, etc.

  • The Autumn of Nations was an enormous event the world over. Entire generations of people had lived with the omninous cloud of nuclear annihilation over their heads, only to see it blown away on the winds of change. Here are some moments while the winds were blowing and the leaves were falling:
  • "All free men, wherever they may be, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a citizen of Berlin, I take pride in the words 'Ich Bin Ein Berliner'." No doubt about it; John Kennedy knew how to deliver an emotive speech. (And no, "Ich bin ein Berliner" in this context does not mean "I am a jelly donut".)
    • For some reason, reading the "I am a jelly donut" line made me burst out in laughter...
    • Well it does (Ich bin Berliner is the correct phrase), but the people of Berlin understood what he meant and the sentiment is still a hell of a tearjerker.
    • No, it doesn't. Since the President was not literally from Berlin but only declaring his solidarity with its citizens, "Ich bin Berliner" would not have been correct. Also, people from Berlin don't call jelly donuts "Berliners". See it here.
      • This troper's father was in West Germany when President Kennedy was assassinated. This speech had led the people of Germany to take the man into their hearts, and the outpouring of grief that my dad witnessed at the news was amazing...and touching.
    • The 1964 Democratic National Convention. When Bobby Kennedy went up to speak, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause in honor of his assassinated brother and in support for him, and continued for 22 minutes straight. Bobby could barely keep it together -- he kept mouthing "thank you...thank you..." over the noise with tears in his eyes. And apparently, after his speech, he fled to the fire escape behind the building and cried for ages until a friend found him.
  • The legislators who created the Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917. It's sad to think all of them had a part in such a historic event, making a revolutionary document, putting their ideals on it, their lives, their hopes, only to be smashed by Venustiano Carranza, who took credit for all. Nobody remembers them and they remain a small footnote on the Mexican history. All of their names are written down in golden letters in the Teatro de la República in Querétaro and afterwards, in the uppermost section, there is a hall full of photographs, and below each photograph, there are papers written down by the men themselves in ink and quill with heartwarming quotes about what they hoped their works would do to the country. And yet no one remembers them.
  • This Troper cried tears of joy when she heard that Obama had been elected President on 11/4/2008.
    • This troper actually got choked up during the concession speech that Senator McCain gave. Such class, such dignity, it almost made you sad that both men couldn't've run on the same ticket.
    • It was seeing this [dead link] which really got me.
    • I was undone at one sight from Obama's acceptance speech -- Jesse Jackson, who only 40 years ago had been PRESENT in the hotel room where Martin Luther King had been assassinated and was now seeing Obama elected president, was standing in the middle of the crowd, completely mute, and tears STREAMING down his face.
    • This troper got choked up listening to her Chinese professor talk to the class about voting for the first time and how happy she was that now everything people back in China had told her about America was true.
    • This troper is always affected by the story told of an elderly black woman who, immediately after casting her vote, broke down in tears and admitted that she still couldn't believe that, after living through Jim Crow and segregation and the Civil Rights unrest and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and so much heartache and disillusionment and repression, she had actually lived to be able to vote for a black Presidential candidate.
    • Even Keith Olbermann cried. As he speaks the official announcement on MSNBC, you can hear his voice trembling.
    • The Spelman College girl in the green blouse who simply dropped to the ground, completely overcome.
    • This Trooper both worked as an election official, and had tickets to the inauguration. For the former, there were quite a few times over the day of people far older then this trooper's mother coming in to vote for the first time, and for the latter, despite being stuck outside and not being able to see or hear the swearing in or speech, there were still people breaking into tears when the cannons went off, signaling that Obama was then the 44th President. All of it was surprisingly moving.
    • This very big girl cried like a very small one all through the inauguration, and for awhile afterward. So much snot. But happy, excited, renewed-faith-in-humanity snot.
    • The next day, this troper's professor choked up in front of an entire lecture hall talking about watching the footage of people celebrating in Grant Park where he, as a protester at the 1968 DNC, had been tear-gassed and beaten, and how he felt that "the whole world was watching" once more.
    • This Troper unfortuantely could not witness the inauguration during school because he was forced to do work, he only saw the last 5 or so minutes of it.
    • I have something to say about this: My fellow Americans, we took a long time to get past all the racism and hatred. It continues today, even. But we overcame a big hurdle the day we voted Obama into office. It's nice to know that "All men are created equal" is becoming true for us.
    • This big guy Troper was 20 years old on Election Night 2008. Casting my first Presidential votes (Both in primary and General) were for Barack Obama. I cried that night. The only election I've ever cried over. I am still proud I cast that vote and I do not regret it.
    • The image of a pair of children, one black, one white, who reached out to each other and shared the "Obama" banners when it was announced he was elected.
    • Garrison Keillor was there, and wrote this beautiful piece about what he saw.
    • YMMV depending on your political stance.
      • Any time one gets to bear witness to history being made is a tearjerker, regardless of politics.
  • Speaking of elections, there's also the Iraqi elections back in 2005. Though it has often been forgotten because of everything that has happened since, it still deserves mention for the fact that 8.9 million people - defying suicide bombers, armed militias, and religious fanatics - turned out to have the right to have a purple, indelible mark on their index finger.
  • Barack Obama's victory speech

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America. It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

    • This 17-year-old troper was one of those cynical, fearful, doubtful people, and actually burst into tears watching this on TV, specifically when he said "a better day." Just those words. That's what we need. And besides, the man can give a speech.
    • This 15-year-old troper had to force down tears when he said "gay, straight". She is bisexual, and has not yet come out to her family -- and can't help feeling she missed her chance to tell her mother then.
  • Not on the music page, because he wasn't actually singing: You already know you're in for an emotional time when you go to the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration concert. You might even get a little teary when U2 plays "Pride," here and now of all places. But when Bono took a break to say "Not just an American dream, also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream... and also..." and it was clear he wasn't sure what reaction he would get from the Americans by referencing the conflict there, but he still said "a Palestinian dream!" and the cheering was TWICE AS LOUD as it had been for any other region. I wasn't the only one in the crowd who cried a little.
    • This troper got more than a little choked up when the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger performed Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" and invited the audience to sing along. Hearing hundreds of thousands of people sing "this land was made for you and me" was one of the most moving thing I've ever seen.
  • Nelson Mandela walks out of prison after twenty-seven years.
  • And then in 1994, defying threats by right-wing militants, millions of South Africans of all races stood united to cast their ballots in the country's first fully open democratic election. I was only two at the time, but my earliest memories are of seeing an elderly black man (who could no longer walk) being carried by his grandchildren to a voting station to cast his ballot. He was 89 - and for the first time in his life, he could claim to truly be free.
  • This troper doesn't know what it is about this speech by James Connolly that makes him shudder every time he reads it, but here it is anyway: "If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of our prisons or graves we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps, raise a force that will destroy you! We defy you! Do your worst!" - James Connolly, 1909.
  • No matter what your political positions or opinions of hereditary privilege, the last eulogies of the British House of Lords when most hereditary Peers were removed in 1999 definitely fit here. It can be read in full here, beginning at 'On Question, Motion agreed to: Adjournment', but the last words of Lord Weatherill deserve to be reproduced on this page:

My Lords, this is a historic day but also a very sad one. Naturally, I am pleased that the amendment which bears my name has been agreed by both Houses of Parliament by such substantive majorities. Nevertheless, it is a sadness to say farewell to so many friends who have graced this place and who in many instances have contributed greatly to its work over the centuries. Though largely unsung, their labours over the years--indeed, the centuries--have upheld our democratic freedoms and contributed to the health and welfare of our country. It is right that tribute should be paid to them and to their forebears for their dedicated services. I echo the remarks of the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln in gratitude to the staff of this House, those who are often seen and those seldom seen, who serve us so well. I am a relative newcomer to your Lordships' House. I came here only in 1992 after 28 years in the other place, which is dominated by the clash of adverse opinions. In the words of John Stuart Mill, "Truth emerges from the clash of adverse opinions". The adverse opinions in your Lordships' House are less raucous but no less effective. The hallmark of your Lordships' House has been, and is, courtesy. I hope that we shall not lose it in the new House of Lords which inevitably will be much more political than the present one. The role of the Cross Benches will inevitably change in that those of us who remain, in particular the 28 hereditary Peers who will remain on our Benches, are more likely to become working Peers. We have not been so called in the past although I must pay tribute to the work that all of them have done. This is the last time that I shall speak in my role as Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers, a post that I have held now for five years. So I should like to pay tribute to and express thanks for the support and friendship of those on all our Benches, but particularly on the Cross-Benches; and especially to the hereditary Peers. They and their forebears have made a massive contribution over the years, indeed over the centuries, in defending our country's democratic freedoms, from the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights to the present day. The hereditary peerage has served our country faithfully and well; and it is right that we should thank them and salute them for their services. I understand that there is a book in the Commons which seeks to discover which of the hereditary Peers will be the first Prime Minister in the new millennium. I suspect that this is not the last post, but reveille. I suspect that the hereditary peerage will continue to serve our country well in the future as they have in the past.

  • Gordon Brown has delivered two very emotional speeches, and those are his resignation speech and his address to Citizens UK.
  • After the Easter Rising in 1916 in Dublin, the rebels were rounded up, given show trials and the leaders, along with several others, were sentenced to die by firing squad. They were then all buried in quicklime, not even given the option of a decent burial.
    • James Connolly was badly injured in the Rising, so he was carted in on a stretcher, and tied to a chair to face his sentence.
    • Joseph Plunkett married his longtime sweetheart Grace Gifford a few hours before his execution.
    • Patrick Pearse spent his time before his execution writing a poem and a letter to console his mother.
    • Michael Mallin never met his youngest child. His wife was pregnant when he was executed
    • Willie Pearse was executed simply for following his brother Patrick.
    • Conn Colbert, afraid that a visit from family "would grieve us both too much," spent his time writing letters to his loved ones
    • The Easter Rising in of itself. There was a Home Rule for Ireland Bill in the works, but it was delayed due to the onset of the First World War. Had the Irish nationalists simply been patient enough and waited until the end of the conflict, Ireland would have received self-autonomy without the copious bloodshed of the Troubles.
      • That's debatable. The struggle for Home Rule had been ongoing for YEARS, bills had been put off multiple times before this and the Third Home Rule Bill had been due to come in before World War I before being postponed AGAIN on the outbreak of war. Except that this time, the leader of the Home Rule Party was actively encouraging Irish Volunteers to go join the British army and die for their cause. For the nationalists, it was too much. In any case, Home Rule would not have allowed for the complete autonomy Republicans sought. But yes, a tragedy nevertheless.
  • The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on January 8, 2011, and the killing of Federal Judge John Roll in the same incident. It was just so starkly, terrifyingly sudden. Bystanders were injured and killed, including a child, Christina Taylor Green--who was born on September 11, 2001, and four others. It's horrific to contemplate what could bring such a thing to be.
    • This troper was fortunate enough to help as part of the coordinated campaign helping to elect Dmocratic candidates all over Arizona in 2010, and I met Gabby several times. Every time, she was honest, open, genuine, warm, caring, and intelligent. Everyone I know who has met her in person, and many who have had email correspondence with her, echo my impressions. Not only was the shooting a horrific and frightening act of violence, but one question has gone completely unanswered: "How could this happen to someone like Gabby?"
    • I was woken up with the news, and when I finally understood what was happening, was sobbing and freaking out the day it happened, angry and shocked and sad -- like so many in Arizona and nationwide. But my mother and I have been marvelling at how, despite how utterly awful it is that the happened at all and claimed so many lives and injured so many others, what is also shocking is the number of things that have gone as well as they could in the circumstances. For example: Daniel Hernandez, who had limited nursing training, being right by Gabby as she was shot and likely saving her life; the fact that the shooting happened when the trauma teams were switching over, meaning two trauma teams were available to help the victims; the woman who was able to grab a magazine off the shooter; the fact that the second magazine the shooter loaded failed to fire; the way the shooter was tackled and taken into custody immediately; the fact that the bullet only passed through one side of Gabby's brain (making the injury less severe than if it had gone through both halves) and even the fact that the bullet passed straight through her brain, meaning invasive surgery into the brain itself to remove the bullet wasn't necessary. Of course there are infinite scenarios where things could have turned out better, don't get me wrong. It not happening at all is top of the list. But since the shooter did fire the first magazine, what we are left with is probably the best-case scenario. I think my mother put it best: "The shooting was -- and is -- a horrible tragedy, the work of a madman. But all those little coincidences after it happened? That's Gabby's karma." And by all acounts John Roll's, too.
    • A white, Republican, Roman Catholic judge was murdered on his way to greet his friend, a white, Jewish, Democratic Congresswoman. Her life was saved by a Mexican-American gay college student and then later by a Korean-American combat surgeon. And then it was all explained and eulogized by our African-American President. - Attributed to historian Allen Ginsberg (not that Allen Ginsberg) by journalist Mark Shields.
    • Christina Taylor Green's grandfather is Dallas Green, a name familiar to any Philadelphia Phillies fan. This Philly Troper was reading a local paper the other day, and there was a piece written by Mr. Green, about the first day of spring training and how he and his son, who works for his own local team, are both throwing themselves into work to try and cope. I tried so hard not to cry, because it's just so senseless. I know we're all aware of that, but that's all I could think.
    • One of the shooters' victims died shielding his wife of fifty years from the attack. His poor widow ...