Archive for January, 2009

An American Moment Like No Other

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He has been called a socialist, elite, too black, not black enough, inexperienced, presumptuous, a long shot, un-American, even a terrorist. But today he is simply called Mr. President.

Unbelievable as it sounds, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And of course, I had to be there. And we traveled in style. Change has not only come to America, but I got a new car.

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Once again America can lead by example. Many people in other countries, such as England and France, can not imagine an African minority in their country ever being elected to the highest office.

Just as significant, the most reasoned, balanced, intelligent and thoughtful person was the one to assume office. Democracy somehow worked this time! This is a clear break from the past of partisan, ideologically and theologically based ignorance and fear that has been the norm for too long. Sanity, reason and real compassion has returned to the White House along with the first African American president.

This is why some two million people (the largest crowd ever in DC) converged on the Mall in Washington, DC and some 2 billion people around the world watched with a collective sigh of relief.

And it began with a concert and ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. A fitting place for the first African American President (also a tall lanky man from Illinois) and the same spot where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. A dream indeed fulfilled!

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There were many great stars and musicians there including Tom Hanks, Denzil Washington, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder and of course the band to play right before Obama spoke – U2. True to form Bono reminded the then President-elect and the world, “This is not just an American dream, it’s a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream – and a Palestinian dream” You tell ’em Bono!

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Contrary to his socialist label, it seemed that the Obama presidency has spawned a plethora of entrepreneurs selling everything Obama throughout DC.

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Even Obama at the beach buttons.

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And “Yes We Can” cookies at Union Station.

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The night before, the excitement was in the air as the whole mall was lit up in anticipation.

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Tuesday morning people were everywhere. They came to witness history, such a diverse crowd of happy if not cold people – all 2 million of them!

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They came from all over the country and the world, the rich and powerful and meek and humble. With so many people it was amazing to hear later that there had been no arrests the whole day.

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And then the moment was upon us – “I Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…”.

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And then we cheered, hollered, cried and hugged loved ones and total strangers. It was great to be there with Gretchen and my good friend Jeff.

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And a little while another thing to cheer about – the exit of Bush! Good bye and good riddance!

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And at the White House, somebody new was moving in as the sea gulls celebrated and the bands prepared for the parade.

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They lined the streets and building tops to see the new President and the beginning of a new era. We were fortunate to get a spot right behind the White House across from the Presidential viewing stand. They told us it couldn’t be done (be at the swearing in and see the parade) and we replied – Yes We Can!

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Lots of pomp and circumstance preceded the presidential procession.

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And of course Joe and Dr. Jill Biden.

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Ladies and gentlemen the First Lady and the President of the United States of America, Barack and Michele Obama!

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Yes, that is the Commander in Chief.

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Godspeed Mr. President.

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