Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama: the 44th President of the United States of America

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
I watched the inauguration in class today. In my Creative Non-Fiction class, to be specific. I was incredibly worried that I would miss the inauguration, but rather than focusing on the syllabus or the book list today, we turned on the TV and watched the swearing in of the 44th President of the United States of America. On BET, at that, a network largely free from Talking Heads and (aside from an unobtrusive scrolling banner at the very bottom of the screen) network banners.

And since returning from class this afternoon (overwhelmed by what is clearly going to be an intense final semester) I've kept the transcript of the speech open in a word document, so that I could refer back to it, quote bits of it to friends, and just reread my favorite parts. I thought the language was elegant and beautifully phrased, and, had I been watching somewhere other than a classroom, I'm sure I would have been moved to tears. I did find myself tearing up, even in the public setting.

Anyway, I just wanted to quote my favorite part, the ending:
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
What an amazing day to be an American. I voted for this president, in the first election in which I was old enough to vote, and right now I am living in a country that's all about hope and change and new beginnings. It's not a cure all, of course not, but it's a step, even just a small one. It was a wonderful inauguration, I thought, and I kind of can't believe it's happened, now. Bush is no longer our president, he's moved on to his little piece of our nation's history, and now we're living in a whole new chunk of that history.

It's amazing.

1 comment:

  1. I teared up reading this. It thrills me to read your thoughts and to know how important this is to you and how engaged you are. It is also reassuring to me that your generation has someone to inspire and lead you and give you hope. We had that in Kennedy. I trust that President Obama will be with us longer and will help us all to turn this country around.