Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Audacity of Hope and the Tenacity of the Dream

Welcome, my fellow Americans to a day of historic proportions. It has been 76 spirited days since the selection of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th President. He has already been given charge of "the football." That's the code name for the briefcase which holds the top secret codes that can unleash the nuclear might of the United States in the event of the unthinkable. At this pivotal moment in time, he is in fact more of the Commander-in-Chief than George W. Bush. Change has come, America. To all those who rode the Obama Express to victory, the words "Yes we can" will reverberate as a continuing call to action. To those who supported the campaign of John McCain (or others), those same words should act as reassurance that the Obama administration is attempting to forge a more perfect union at a time when good news is long overdue. He will need all of our help and support. The challenges ahead on the domestic front and in foreign affairs are daunting and the hardship of the office will begin to show on the President-Elect. Mr. Obama has come to identify with Abraham Lincoln, our nation's 16th President, in many ways. His railroad trip from Philadelphia was intended to summon forth a similar trip that Lincoln made on his way to his first innauguration. Obama's appearance at the Lincoln Memorial at the concert in his honor on Sunday certainly added to that connection. Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but lived most of his life in Illinois. After having lived in Hawaii and Kansas, Obama has also spent much of his life in Illinois. For the next four (and possibly eight) years, he is to make 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home. The reins of government are to be passed peaceably and with great fanfare today on the steps of the Capitol. It is a testament to our greatness as a nation that we do so with precision and reverence towards the office of Chief Executive. Today is a day to be proud to be an American and, coming the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it is also important to remember that part of his dream comes true today with the searing in ceremony of our nation's first African-American President. It is a long time in coming. From the great debate over slavery that split our founding fathers and resulted in our nation's bloodiest war, the dream was only begun. With the rise of hate and Jim Crow, we struggled as a nation for a century to do what was right until the Civil Rights era dawned and the final battles were waged. Some of these struggles were waged with Dr. King, but, sadly, many more were waged without him. There is still much work to be done on this front. Nonetheless, I can't but help think he would be proud of our country on this historic day and say to us all in his powerful, booming voice "God bless the President and God bless America."

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