By the end of the hearings, polls showed the vast majority of Americans believed Thomas and disbelieved Hill. He wrote of the deluge of mail he received from supporters, the prayer offerings — even gift cards for McDonald's. He says he also received a sobering warning: the marshals told him to wear a bullet proof vest.
The White House hastily scheduled his public swearing-in ceremony for that Friday, and hundreds of people gathered. Reporters wrote that the White House moved forward so quickly because it was worried other women who had allegedly been harassed by Thomas would soon be coming forward, but no others beyond Hill and Angela Wright (who had been prepared to testify Thomas had made a comment about her body and is not mentioned in his book) ever did in the years that followed.
During the ceremony, Thomas wrote that he alluded to Psalm 30 when he said there was "joy in the morning."
"Thanks to God's direct intervention, I had risen phoenix-like from the ashes of self-pity and despair, and though my wounds were still raw, I trusted that in time they, too, would heal," he wrote.
The Thomases talk about the experience as almost one of spiritual warfare, and they hold hands when they discuss what they went through. Virginia says she believes Hill owes them an apology — for "not telling the truth" and for "infecting" his life story.
"I'm sure she got swept up into something bigger than she may have understood at the beginning of whatever she was doing," Virginia says, "but I think she owes us an apology and I look forward to receiving that phone call or that visit one day."
Thomas says he slowly rebuilt his life and has put the hearings behind them. His opponents were "playing a fine little cynical political game," he says, "but in the end it leaves you with a life you have to live."
"Think of those little ants. They run around with that one little grain of sand, one little grain of sand. They're always working, always working. Then somebody comes along and just kicks it over, just for the heck of it. 'We don't like ants,'" Thomas says of going through that time. "Then they run around a little minute, then scurry and then they start building another one. You see? And so that's what you have to do with your life, and that's the hand that's dealt you."
The rage on display in the book, he says, was how he felt at the time. Now, he says, he thanks God for something else: that the battle occurred, and that he survived. As much as he longs to be a private and anonymous man — which he will not be, certainly with the publication of his book — the hearings also proved he would not allow himself to become an invisible man.
"I'm free. I'm totally free to do what I believe is right and to be independent," Thomas says. "Now it comes at a very high price, but I truly thank God for the hearings and for the criticisms, etc., because it's freed me," He says. I'm a free person, totally free to do what I think is right.
"Right is right. It doesn't matter what they say," Thomas says. "As my grandfather used to say, 'They've got a lifetime to get pleased.'"
He is not home, he says. He says he recognized at 19 he would never be able to go home again. But he is at ease in both worlds, he says, white and black.