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I Was There — January 20, 2009

January 23, 2009

“I was there.”

These three words signify being part of an event that will redefine what history will write about us and what stories we will tell our children and grandchildren. I will be able to say that on the day where a man, who barely 60 years ago would have been denied entrance into restaurants and higher education, took the oath of office as President of the United States, I was there. I was part of the moment where a movement became a revolution.

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Having several friends who have made their homes in D.C., I decided “why not” and bought a ticket the day after the election. History was going to be made and I wanted to be there to write my own chapter. Between the masses of people, the hustlers on street corners selling Obama hand puppets, t-shirts, earrings and even cereal, I knew that I was a part of something that would throw the image of America into a whole other sphere. As I stood there at noon on January 20, 2009, listening (I was too short to see anything) to Barack Hussein Obama sworn in as President, I felt proud of my country for the first time in a very long time. After years of fear, torture and domination shaping the mask of America that the rest of the world revolted, a new day was dawning and I was there to see its first rays.

I only wish I could say it as well as the inaugural address did, but I can’t. So I’ll let it speak where my words lack:

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For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

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This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

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].”

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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.

More details about the trip itself to come.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Glo permalink
    January 24, 2009 2:02 pm

    I have to say that I loved the speech. I loved that it called America to action and wasn’t just a jumble of promises. We have to be a part of the promise. I am also happy about how much optimism there is about Obama; people like him. Even if he turns out to not be everything that we hope him to be (a very tall order,) at least people are optimistic for once. People overseas are optimistic too, which bodes well for foreign relations. Hope is a big deal when it comes to how the future is shaped.

    Thanks for the pictures, its like I was there! lol.

  2. this0side0of0the0truth permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:55 pm

    Well people tipped great that day anyways.

  3. January 26, 2009 1:02 pm

    I agree, it was an incredible thing. Being white, I don’t think I totally appreciate how incredible it was. In my blog I talk about an African American coworker who turned to me right after the inaugural address and gave the hearfelt exclamation, “I feel empowered!” It was very moving, and I realized there was more happening than met my eye.

    But on the flip side, I’m concerned about overly high expectations. I get a little nervous when people start implying, “Bush is a jerk; Obama’s wonderful.” They’re both just human, with strengths and weaknesses. Obama will make mistakes too. Bush had the lowest approval rating ever when he left office, but during his presidency he also had one of the highest approval ratings ever.

    What does the future hold? Good things, I hope. But only God knows.

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