The citizen’s stand
Today Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th U.S. president. Tuesdays are always hectic around the newspaper office– it’s the day we go to press each week– but we all had to stop and observe history, even as the moment seemed fleeting.
What struck us about President Obama’s inaugural address was its resounding call to action. He reminded us what a democracy really is: a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Obama did not leave a single one of us out of that equation.
For the younger generations, especially, Obama reminded us that freedom requires great responsibility. He urged us to be willing “to find meaning in something greater than themselves.” Is the “me” generation ready for this?
Our new president harkened back to history, seeking strong examples in our ancestors. “Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.”
He told us to “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” Has any other president in recent past called on us– “We, the People”– to join him in remaking the nation? Are we ready to respond to his call?
“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.”
You get out of life what you put into it. The sum of the whole is greater than its parts. Let us forge ahead with these truths in mind. Thank you, Mr. President.
Published in the January 22, 2009 edition.