An inauguration is a formal ceremony to mark the beginning of a leader's rule. The word comes from consecration, installment under good omens," from inaugurare "take omens from the flight of birds, consecrate or install when such omens are favorable."
Several Presidents have been inaugurated in my lifetime. The first I remember was John F. Kennedy. We had studied each candidate's backgrounds and issues they supported in 6th grade and my sister and I saw candidate Kennedy when he visited our state capital. He even sent me an autographed picture of himself. I was thrilled. But inauguration day, even for JFK, was not as anticipated or celebrated as was President Obama's. In fact, I don't remember the events for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, or Bush I. I do remember Clinton's and do not remember Bush II's.
So far, today's events have been remarkable. It is estimated over 2 million people are in Washington observing/attending today's events. In addition to the millions watching the events in D.C., many millions are gathered in other locations across the country and the world, including New York's Times Square, Dallas, and movie theatres across the nation and the world to watch the address on jumbo screens. In fact, there is a massive flurry of activity across the blogosphere!
Today's Events include:
Invocation: Rick Warren: Calling America a "land of unequaled possibility," Warren's prayer invoked the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. and asked that Americans "remember they are united by a commitment to freedom and justice for all." and "When we fail to give the respect to all humans that they deserve, forgive us."
Song: Aretha Franklin: "America the Beautiful."
Musical Quartet: Isaac Perlman, Jo-Jo Ma, Gabriela Montero, Anthony McGill: Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones (I remembered this song from my church Choir - Very Beautiful)
President Obama's Inauguration Speech: (excerpts; read entire speech here)
On the steps of the nation's Capitol, just a short distance from where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, using the same bible Abraham Lincoln did for his inauguration. He spoke of challenges looming over the country — the economy, the current wars — while also invoking the legacy of King.
"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights...On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord..reaffirm our enduring spirit; ..to carry forward that precious gift, the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."
Economy:..and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
World Peace: to all other peoples and governments who are watching today..know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more...We can meet .. new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said. "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."
HUMANITY: To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
AMERICA, OUR PLEDGE: ..we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains...For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate..
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. 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.
So let us mark this day with remembrance (as Patriots said) "Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Let's all wish President Obama and each of ourselves a Happy Inauguration Day, a Better day tomorrow and over the next 8 years. God Bless America!!
Late Breaking News: During today's inaugural lunch, Senator Kennedy (76) and Senator Byrd (91) have both suffered some types of attacks at lunch (due to age and illnesses) and have been transported to Hospitals.
Inaugural Poem - by Elizabeth Alexander
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names
of the dead
who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the
bridges, picked the
cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the
glittering edifices they would
then keep clean and work inside of.
song for struggle; praise song for
the day. Praise song for every
hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at
Some live by
"Love thy neighbor as thy self."
first do no harm, or take no
more than you need.
What if the mightiest word
is love, love beyond
marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool
of light. Love
with no need to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle,
air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on
on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.