It seemed as if the entire nation turned out for the inauguration of Barack Obama. After a hotly contested election, even some ardent conservatives have been swept up in the tide of enthusiasm. Commentators and pundits struggled for new and creative ways to say, “Historic.” Preceded by the standard array of parties and gatherings, accompanied by the pomp and pageantry befitting the office, at 12:05 today, Barack Obama completed the oath of office as President of the United States.
It was the speech I was looking forward to. President Obama is one the most gifted orators in our world today. He also has gifted speech writers and delivered a series of brilliant speeches on the campaign trail. I wondered if he would deliver at the Inauguration. Would he make the speech of a lifetime? A speech for the ages?
The President gets mixed reviews in my opinion.
The language was soaring but metaphors came so fast and so frequently the content suffered. The themes of humility, sacrifice and gratitude were welcome and heart-felt. While not everyone embraced the more somber Obama, the tone of the speech seemed befitting of the moment to me. One of his best moments was when he said:
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.
The enduring image of the day, for me, is not from the speech itself. It is the repeated image of a black man and his wife and children. A role model for young black men and young black families. A smart man. A hard working man. A man that can be respected and admired.
I did not support him in the campaign and I will oppose many of his policies and ideals. But Barack Obama is my President and I will pray for him, encourage him, and hope he delivers on the best of his promises.