Monday, January 19, 2009

Question: What Does the Inauguration Mean to You?

First of all, I don't mean for this question to be partisan. But I am wondering, for all y'all regular readers (and newcomers!) what does the inauguration mean to you?

All throughout our history, we, as Americans, are trying to fill in the blanks that Jefferson didn't know he inserted in his famous phrase "All men are created equal." Back in 1776, "Men" equaled "white, adult, land-owning" etc. As we grew up as a republic, we started taking away some of those hidden adjectives. After the Civil War, we started adding other adjectives: black men, women, 18-year-olds.

As Joseph Ellis wrote in his Washington Post piece, when Obama takes the oath, he will be fulfilling a promissory note Jefferson wrote in 1776. John Adams would also be proud, as would most of our Founding Fathers and other giants of our history.

But I think Obama is also fulfilling a promissory note issues by Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment. Not only that,

America is, and always will be, a work in progress. It's a point of pride that we can adjust our country, right wrongs, and move forward. It's all part of a great conversation, one that we all get to enjoy tomorrow.

Lincoln is everywhere nowadays but his words have special resonance this week. Take this last phrase from the Gettysburg Address: that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Every inauguration is a new birth of freedom. This one seems just a little bit more.

2 comments:

Jerry House said...

This time, the inauguration is as much for the people as for the politicos. It is wonderful to see so many people -- black and white -- come together with great expectations for our future. My hopes for the new administration are high, but at the back of my mind is that little, sniggling fear that partisanship will blunt Obama's accomplishments.

I'm glad Obama won, but I am estatic that about a year ago President #44 could have been a woman, a Hispanic, a Morman, or a war hero. That alone says something very important. Only in America, man.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It means so much to me that I can hardly talk about it without tears. And Jerry's right, we had such great choices, such a chance to change our direction. And yes we can.