Instead of a rah-rah campaign speech, Barack Obama’s inaugural address was one of a leader during difficult times…sobering, direct, forceful, confident, and often parental.
Instead of trying to make us feel good, he spoke to us honestly about the challenges ahead and of how we must all do our part. The massive crowd seemed a bit stunned. They were in a party mood and wanted to cheer during his speech. They had a few opportunities…but mostly listened somberly to his call to each of them…to each of us. If you didn’t see or hear the speech…or just want to watch it again, here it is.
The interviews with people who came to the inauguration were heart-warming and tear-producing. They each had a personal story to tell of why they had to come to the inauguration, no matter the hardships in getting there or the discomfort of standing in 15 degree cold for hours.
Barack and Michelle…now the President and First Lady…and Vice President and Mrs. Biden showed courage (another trait of leaders) in walking several blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue on a day when many feared for their safety.
Obama was gracious in thanking Bush for his service, but appropriately did not gush and did not mention Cheney. The sight of Cheney bowed in a wheelchair…the formerly all powerful vice president…now not able to walk on his own two feet seemed apropos. The sight of Bush leaving in a government helicopter while the crowd booed and sang “Na Na Na Na, Goodbye” also seemed apropos. The two war criminals were diminished and dismissed by a people eager to get on with forgetting the destruction they left behind.
Senator Kennedy, even with brain cancer, looked fit and delighted as he took his seat in the viewing stand at the swearing in…and later suffered a seizure at lunch. He, like so many of us, was so moved by Obama that he put his own (health) issues to the side and showed up, which is what Obama is asking us all to do.
Malia and Sasha were poised and charming and their mother Michelle was beautiful, elegant, lovely, graceful, and supportive. Barack was intimate with his wife and children and made the day as much about them as it was about him.
The planning of the day was superlative…except that more wiggle room could have been built into the schedule. It was a beautiful day, a memorable day, a joyful day, and a day to remember.
Celebrities such as Beyonce (beautifully and tearfully singing “At Last” as the Obamas danced their first dance), Alicia Keys, Oprah and Steadman, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Will.I.Am (he of the incredible video that contributed so much to the campaign), Mary J. Blige, Faith Hill, Usher, and so many more were thrilled to participate in the day and at the balls. Aretha Franklin sang “My Country Tis of Thee” masterfully during the swearing in ceremony.
Barack Obama brought change today…to our country, our minds, and our hearts. I leave you with Will.I.Am singing a song so appropriate for the day…”It’s a New Day”…a day an African American became the most powerful person in the world and moved into the WHITE House…built on the backs of black slaves.