American ideals reaffirmed on Inauguration Day
For Inauguration Day, Washington, D.C. was filled with crowds of more than 1 million, the Associated Press reported, in what is estimated the largest gathering of people in U.S. history. Across the nation, Americans watched proceedings on television and online. At the same time, hundreds of UH students gathered in the University Center to share what could be the most significant moment in contemporary American politics: the swearing in of our first black president, Barack Obama.
Even for those who did not vote for Obama, his taking of office should be celebrated. It proves that this nation is undoubtedly a popular sovereignty, led by free people. The symbolic import of the onset of Obama’s term coinciding with what would have been the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 80th birthday and the use of President Lincoln’s inaugural Bible reaffirm the ideals on which the United States was founded.
The day’s symbolism also speaks to a message from Obama’s inaugural address: ‘For the world has changed, and we must change with it.’
A more accurate statement would be the world is always changing. No human lives a static life separate from his or her environment. Every action a person makes impacts the rest of the world – no matter how small that impact may be. As American leadership transitions from promoting a culture of fear to a culture of hope, let us remain critically aware of the rhetorical hype on both sides of the coin and keep in mind how much power each of us has as a citizen. Get involved, attend rallies, write letters to Congress, inform the media but most importantly, let your voice be heard.
President Obama is listening. On Sunday during a speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Obama said, ‘As I prepare to take the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that oval office.’
However, don’t forget that Obama didn’t swear an oath to us – he swore it to the Constitution. As citizens we must do our own to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ ourselves. And if ever we doubt the importance of the impact a single person can have, imagine what would be today if the lanky teenager Barry Obama never believed he could make a difference years ago.