Thursday, January 22, 2009
"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness." - President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009.
I didn't have a ticket to the inauguration when I arrived in DC on Monday. I took the Metro from Silver Spring, heading to DC Metro area. Everyone on the train Monday afternoon seemed to sparkle and glow with the excitement and promise tomorrow would bring. Tomorrow would be the best day in a long time. Soft smiles, Obama buttons and pins. Three women boarded the Metro from Florida, grateful for the train and happy to sit down. One of the women who had walked around all day searching for tickets for the main event offered me her extra ticket. She said, "We were just praying that we find someone good that we should give this to." I almost cried. It was a new day. The most amazing random act of kindness ever. It reminded me of election night, that beautiful moment of relief and celebration.
Shivering and waiting in 20 degree weather, chatting it up with folks from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and South Carolina with a ticket that was gifted to me, I was grateful to be there. To share the cold, energy, anticipation and excitement with everyone was beyond words.
The inaugural address didn't disappoint. It had meat and bones. Pundits at present deemed some parts unremarkable, but I think history will recognized the heft of the address later. It was a clarion call. It was a clear demarcation of the sea change many of us seek in Washington and the manner in which government operates.
In Day One and Day Two, we've seen the resurrection of the rule of law. President Obama signed an executive orders to close Guantanamo, new ethics rules for White House staff, and freeze the pay of senior staff. He visited the State Department on Day Two and put a spotlight on diplomacy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama have put an emphasis on steering national and international issue back on track that will hopefully lead to a lasting peace.
We joked on the mall during the inauguration that trumpet blasts between announcing Presidents, ex-Presidents, future Presidents, reminded us of Lord of The Rings: Return of the King. It kind of was like the Return of the King. After Aragorn was crowned king, he said, "This day does not belong to one man but to all. Let us together rebuild this world that we may share in the days of peace." Sound familiar?
America is growing up. 233 years young, in a challenging set of circumstances (2 wars, economic crisis, declining infrastructure, insert issue here), some of us were willing to write us off. Declare the end of the American century as byproduct of the Bush era. However, our generation, this post civil rights generation, post baby boomer generation is challenged to recommit ourselves to the best values of our nation. We the people, in order to form a more perfect union...
Change is dynamic. It is not static or simply a campaign slogan. It is active; in science, it is an agent to mix opposing materials to develop something new. It is the engine of creation. Growing up is change. We'll need to remember that over the next few years.