It is nearly impossible to contextualize the importance of this moment. It is far more than just the inauguration of the first African-American president; more than just new leadership taking the helm in trying times; and it is much, much more than just patriotism. It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new age in America. Whenever this nation, the most powerful and prosperous in human history, changes leadership, it stirs in me an overwhelming sense of patriotism. But this time it is more. It’s rooted not in ideology, but rather in utter amazement by what this nation has accomplished in a relatively short time. And that we can once again rise to the occasion.
And although the inauguration of Barack Obama brings with it overtones that transcend government itself, it should be remembered that he is just one man. No one achieves greatness in isolation. In his inaugural address, Obama called upon us as individuals and as a nation to work together, to continue to make our nation a more perfect union. His eloquence reveals a confidence that is infectious. Words matter. Will his be enough to inspire a nation that is in the midst of crisis on so many fronts? Time will tell, but history is on our side. The great orators who have occupied his office have moved this nation to greatness time and time again.
We have a responsibility to lead the world. The principles Obama enumerated in his address are timeless, and they must be embodied not only in our doctrines, policies and rhetoric, but also in our actions. It is our example, not our words, which speak loudest. However, the inspiration that moves us to rise to meet our challenges comes from leaders who speak confidently, persuasively and definitively. One man can make a difference, but no man can do it alone. In Obama we have elected not just an African-American president, not just a Democrat and not just new leadership… we have chosen a man who has the ability to stir us to greatness.
They called Reagan the great communicator. Granted, but although he spoke with elegance and confidence, he did not bring the same charisma that, prior to Obama, has not been seen since Kennedy. Johnson didn’t have it, Nixon surely didn’t. Nor did Ford, Carter, Bush (either) and even Bill Clinton, a great speaker in his own rite, didn’t have it. Perhaps trying times produce those with the quality to move us, or maybe when the road gets rough we are more easily moved. It matters not; that time is now. The palpable feeling of unity that comes with this particular change of leadership is unmistakable, it is real and it is needed now.
America will endure, but will she prosper? Today I can say that I believe she will not only prosper, but very well could usher in a new age of peace, not just within our borders, but around the world as well. We can do this; we have the might and, now, we have the wisdom in our leadership. I am not one to jump on a bandwagon just because everyone else is, however, I recognized in Obama early on something that this nation desperately needs: competent, measured and intelligent leadership. It has nothing to do with his race and it has nothing to do with his political party… it’s all about his words and how he delivers them. Then it's up to us to act.