Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day To Remember

For me, I did my job as a journalist. I watched Barack Obama's inaugural speech on television. I grasped the splendor of the occasion, a nation beaming with smiles and pride. I downloaded the new president's speech. I wrote the story. Just as in the old days on the newspaper.

Today was special. It is not uncommon for tears to well in my eyes when I observe history. Today was no exception. We may be a young country but the peaceful transformation of power is gut-wrenching sweet. The pomp and ceremony is deserved to the esteem we hold the highest office in the land.

I must confess that when I first saw Barack Obama deliver that magnificent speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 I told my brother Larry this guy is a future president of our country. He agreed. Neither of us believed it would be in four years.

What a remarkable ride. It took even Barack's wife Michelle by surprise. In an unguarded moment and not the best choice of words, Michelle said about a year ago never in her life has she been so proud to be an American. The Republican smear machine tried to repudiate her for some kind of comeuppance. I know exactly what she meant. In fact, I will say it:

Never in my life have I been so proud to be an American.

I'm no flag waver. I love my country. Always have. But if you have any sense of history, a young man growing up during the civil rights riots in Birmingham and even a smidgen of empathy for your fellow man, what we observed today was monumental. Truly historic. The impossible dream.

No, Martin Luther King's dream has not been fulfilled. He wanted peace. We're at war with Islamic fundamentalist extremists. He wanted economic freedom for all. We may never get there.

Barack Obama epitomizes the hope that these goals can be reached. His demeanor and cool approach is reassuring. For sure, we will fall short. But for the first time in a generation, the will is there. Unlike George Bush who encouraged us to go shopping after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama is asking us to sacrifice, to volunteer, to fight the good fight and to work together for the common good.

We are not so naive to believe that politics will resume tomorrow in Washington D.C. and Congress will be chanting kumbaiya.

But, today was a start.

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