Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inauguration Day

Max was home from school sick on Tuesday, and we had the opportunity to watch Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration together. I loved that he was just as excited as I.

It's official -- I love Yo-Yo Ma! (Max was already a confirmed fan.) He is so entertaining to watch, he is so obviously enjoying himself -- he looks like he's having the time of his life -- despite the cold, and despite the fact that, unlike the pianist, he is not wearing fingerless gloves. I loved this.


What a beautiful sight! The crowd, the Capitol building draped in flags, banners, and buntings. As much as I hate being in crowds, I think it must have been hugely exciting to be there. This is the first inauguration I've really been excited about, because Obama is the first politician I've ever been excited about. Because I was paying a lot more attention, I learned quite a bit. I never knew, for example, that according to the Constitution, the new president takes power at 12:00 noon, even if (s)he has not taken the oath of office yet. I found that fascinating!


I was deeply moved by his inaugural address. And because Eva was squirming on my lap, continually asking when it would be over, I just re-watched it tonight in quiet solitude (Marc is still at Sundance). My favorite selections are as follows:

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works."

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."

"To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

"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.

"This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

"This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

I have long been amazed by those who would pursue a career in politics. Who would want to take on such a burden? But I sure am grateful that men and women of integrity are willing to sacrifice so much for our country and for us. I certainly do not envy President Obama the job that lies ahead -- he is inheriting unimaginably difficult challenges. I will continue to pray for him and for his advisers, that they might be equal to the task.

I am quite simply thrilled to be a witness and a participant in this amazing time for our country. I am filled with hope!


{photos borrowed from Photobucket's inauguration compilation}

18 comments:

Anne said...

I have a little crush on Itzak Perlman. He was so cute up there, waving and smiling at the crowd before the ceremony started, and the interaction between he and Yo-Yo Ma was so cute. You really can tell how much they love what they do.

Liz said...

I agree, Yo-Yo Ma was fabulous! Itzhak Perleman was as well, but I just loved how happy and excited YYM was during the entire performance. I also really love the "Simple Gifts" piece in all its many variations, and this one was especially beautiful.

Becky said...

Yo-Yo Ma has long been one of my favorite classical performers...he is amazing! I love the quotes that you picked out from the inaugural speech; I get chills every time I reread them.

What a hopeful time for America!

Becky said...

P.S. What a pleasant surprise it was for me when I checked my e-mail this morning and had FOUR comments from you! Thanks for brightening my morning :)

Denise said...

I'm glad I got to watch, and not just hear, the "Simple Gifts" musical number. It was FABULOUS! I too am now an official Yo-Yo Ma fan. He was darling, and you can feel his joy in expressing himself through beautiful music. I was also amazed at the musicians' abilities to play in 20 degree weather. BBrrr!

Jill said...

I haven't watched it yet, but I found listening to it very moving. The reporters at NPR did such a great job of describing the scene and they seemed quite moved by it as well. It was a very significant day.

carlo said...

wasn't it all so moving? i hav egoosebumps just reading the speech i heard on tuesday

it was neat to share it with my girls.

Hope is a powerful thing

Becky Heard said...

I was in school that morning. I missed it. I love how when you were talking about the president you said "(s)he". We need a woman president next! :-)

patsy said...

I love your enthusiasm. It was a very special day.

Kelly said...

Ah, Yo-Yo Ma is one of our favorites here, too. Avery was so excited that he got to play, and that they played Simple Gifts which was one of her recent piano songs.

I loved reading your thoughts on this (and the inauguration speech quotes) because it helped me get that special feeling back from when I was watching it live. We have so little pomp and ceremony in our government, and so it was special to watch it and really feel all that history. And especially so because, I, too, am so excited by President Obama. Just love writing that. I don't like crowds either, but that would have been something worth making an exception for.

Anita K. said...

I didn't watch any of it, but I heard the music was not live, but a tape.

TX Girl said...

I still think my favorite memory was when I attended Clinton's 2nd inauguration. You couldn't help but feel inspired and truly humbled that anyone would ever want to take on the job of being President. The crowd and atmosphere was amazing. I can only imagine how charged it was at Obama's inauguration, especially given the unbelievable number of people in attendance.

Hannah said...

Just reading all those quotes gets me fired up once again. It was the first inauguration I have watched as well and felt so moved by it all (well, the poem was lost on me). YYM was amazing and so fun to watch. I love the smile on Michelle's Obama's face in every picture I have seen. Like she is oozing pride and optimism and even with all those people, she is still his biggest fan.

Susan said...

I happened to be home that day, not feeling the best. But I was happy to witness the event at the same time.

I heard while I was watching that the Vice President (Biden) was actually the acting President, because Obama was not sworn in my noon. I wonder which one is correct?

I love Yo Yo Ma as well and was quite excited to hear him, as I had been anticipating the performance. It was delightful. He really did look like he loves his instrument. Did Max get my email about him?

I really want Obama to be successful. We certainly need it. I do have trouble with how so many people almost compare him to Diety. I will pray for his success along with you.

Claudissima said...

I agree with your enthusiasm and excitment. I believe it is the same of all the nation. I just hope it continues and people do make a change in their lives and try to give more service. Things like this tend to cool down as time goes on. I really really have strong opinions on politics and being weary of Obama I can only say I will try and pray for him to be more pragmatic than idealist--He is a good man and very sincere, but his ideas about growing Government and redistributing the wealth are scary. We were just talking that Government does not create riches meaning wealth...we need the free market to take its course and get out of its way...and sadly Obama wants to grow government by creating so many new JOBS out of government that do not bring any wealth to the country. I will try and have faith and be contagious in the fact that I do think a good vibe goes a long way. Thanks for commenting on my blog too!

wende said...

i just noticed one of your labels - and i agree! "oh happy day" indeed! great post michelle!

shawna b. said...

I barely left the TV all day last Tuesday. I could just not get enough of the Inauguration festivities and know I would have been tempted to attend had I been in Virginia. The whole thing was so inspiring and historic. The weight of the world is on Obama's shoulders now. He has my prayers and all my hope that the change he has promised we can create will really come to pass.

Yo Yo Ma is a gift to the world. What a treat to watch him! I was absolutely mesmerized.

Alisha said...

I LOVED his speech, too. I love the feeling of freshness and real hope for change, too. It's a great time to be an American, I'd say.

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