Inauguration Day 2013 was a special day as Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office for a second time. The first time was for history, this time it was for legacy. President Obama spoke to the heavens and shook the earth with eloquence rarely heard in Washington, or anywhere else. It was also a special day for the millions of men and women who invested their hopes and dreams in change in the face of fierce opposition. And, having come to Washington for the great March in 1963, I was privileged to return fifty years later this time with my son.
Perhaps because he came to the national limelight through his outstanding oratory, Barack Obama is always competing with his own reputation, constantly being compared to his last great speech. But after six years of soaring oratory, perhaps it is time to appreciate the man for his power to move while conveying thoughts and concepts and emotions.
Certainly his second inaugural address to the nation took all who would listen to the peaks of imagination and the mountain tops of greater vision. He not only appealed to the common sense notion that a community or a nation is only as great as its individuals. He obliterated the concept of rugged individualism in society, revealing it for the fantasy ideal that it is.
He did not shy away from the reality of the challenges that face this country. But he reminded everyone that the history of this country is full of challenges that served as opportunities for greatness as they were overcome. And that is why, President Obama said, “we were made for this moment….”
The last applause had barely finished echoing through the concrete canyons of the capital before the Teapublican sock puppets raced to the microphones to declare that President Obama had not said anything new. And, in a new twist, it was said that by encouraging a sense of community in this country President Obama was a “communalist”, another sobriquet to be added to “communist”, “fascist” and “Kenyan Manchurian candidate”.
The truth is that while Obama was speaking to the entire nation, his words were intended for those who would listen. Certainly the right wing of the right wing was encouraged to stop clinging to their imaginary past and to stride into the future. But the truth is that President Obama’s words were for those who wanted to listen, who wanted to believe in the future and who did believe in tomorrow.
And while I was in Washington I had the opportunity to attend a private celebration of Organizing for Obama volunteers. There were no celebrities or seekers of headlines, only men and women who acted on their belief that tomorrow could belong to their dreams, but only if they tried.
These were some of the millions of Obama supporters who made calls, knocked on doors and made November 6, 2012 a day that will shine in the annals of history. And as I listened to these men and women I understood once more why Barack Obama won because these people were not organizing “against” Mitt Romney or the Teapublicans. Rather, they were organizing “for” the ideals in which they believed – freedom, opportunity, compassion and the recognition of the dignity that all men and women own as their birthright.
The Romney campaign and the opposition to President Obama were covered with vitriol, negativity and hate. These are elements that will motivate people, history tells us that. But vitriol, negativity and hate will not sustain a movement and will always be on the losing side of history – November 6, 2012 proved that.
And finally, in August of 1963 at the age of thirteen, my parents put me on an NAACP bus in Englewood, New Jersey and I went to the March on Washington – a moment in my personal
history that I can never forget.
On January 21, 2013 I attended inauguration of President Barack Obama with my son. It is still hard to believe that fifty years after the March on Washington I was able to attend the second inauguration of the first black President of the United States, and this time with my son. Truly there are blessings in this life.
We are made for this moment!