Jan 31, 2009

January 20, 2009 : I Too Sing America, A Day of Celebration, The Reflecting Pool

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes.
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America. ---Langston Hughes (1)

“We are the change we've been waiting for”, he has intoned. No one is going to come down and rescue us, we will have to do it—as we have always done it—ourselves.

Today in a speech that chided the outgoing administration by promising to return to the ideals that have driven the American experiment; to work for a more perfect union; and to return to the community of nations, President Obama spoke solemnly of the challenges ahead and forcefully of about the promise of the future. “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” he said. “Those ideals still light the world and we will not give them up for expedience sake”.

It is a day of celebration. The country, indeed the world, gathered almost as one to celebrate both the elevation of our first African-American President and the departure of what is convincingly the worst administration in United States history with the possible exception of James Buchanan.

It has been a long time coming. For eight long years, during what will be seen in future times as a veritable “dark age” of American History, the country has reeled from scandal to scandal beginning with the outright theft of Presidential power –a political coup de tat--through Enron, breaking into the Social Security lock box, 9/11, the Iraq war, no bid contracts to Haliburton and other contractors, the use of mercenaries in both our military and intellegence, the failure to secure our ports and borders, the gutting of our economy by exporting jobs and capital, ad nauseum. Then, came hurricane Katrina. Nothing on this scale of incompetence, venality and greed has ever before been witnessed by the American People. A sense of powerlessness and alienation grew among the people and, as Karl Rove and other Rescumlican operatives openly spoke of a permanent Republican majority, a sense of hopelessness fell upon the land.

Then a young man rose to speak at the 2004 Democratic convention. Telling us in no uncertain terms that there is no “Red America, there is no Blue America, there is a United States of America” he proceeded to light up not only the partisan crowd in the hall but a fire that spread across the nation. Since then, and certainly since Katrina, the nation has been impatienly awaiting a promise of hope. In early 2007 he stood on the steps of the old State House in Springfield Illinois, across the street from Lincoln's old law office and at the doors of the very legislative chamber where Lincoln delivered the famous “House Divided” speech declaring an end of the food fights; an end of the politics of division.

“Could we dare hope?” Americans asked themselves in a hushed and nearly unspoked voice. “YES WE CAN” responded the young Jedi. And, beginning in the snows of Iowa, now over a year ago, Americans began to register their voices of protest and promise. Protest over existing conditions and the promise of a better tomorrow. Today we took a giant stride toward tomorrow.

Beginning very early this morning, well before sunrise, the crowd began gathering on the Mall in Washington. Well before mid morning the area was packed with over a million souls, the largest assembly of the American people in the history of our national capitol. It was a time of celebration, of joy, of hope. It was as if America itself had assembled before its elected leadership and beheld in the reflecting pool the image of Barack Obama.


1. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-too/

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