Inauguration 2009 - Change For Our Hope
Cuisine and Crowds
Chef Fred Reynaud is known to me through a faith-based Internet group and mailing list of culinary professionals - He provided the services for one of the largest Inaugural Balls in DC in 2009. As a member of Mercy Chefs, he and others travel to disaster areas to provide food for rescue workers and victims, so he is no stranger to challenging situations. He looked forward to his duties for the Inaugural Ball and expected tremendous numbers of people to feed, more than at previous balls and he was doing everything possible to prepare. Through dedicated efforts and efficient staff, the culinary and service professionals serving the ball made a success.
Millions of onlookers packed the area around the US National Capitol Building on the Mall on Tuesday January 20, 2009. This was the largest crowd I have ever witnessed outside of faith and healing crusades conducted by Billy and Franklin Graham or Reinhold Bonnkhe in places like South America and Africa, drawing several million people each. For the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, there were more witnesses than the New Year's Silver Ball Drop in Times Square of the same year.
High Tech Inauguration
Outside of Washington DC, big screen TV presentations of the Inauguration were provided in university and college auditoriums, film theaters, sports bars, libraries, and other businesses. Movie theaters sponsored free Inauguration screenings and opened their concessions in major cities across the nation, with customers lining up at sunrise in all weather.
At the Ohio State University, several auditoriums opened to the public at 10:00 AM to celebrate the historic event at Noon. At the South Gateway Drexel Theater on the revitalized south side business area of campus, crowds were waiting early. Groups of people were cheering up and down high street, despite the 10 degree weather, while the National Mall in DC was filled at sunrise. OSU campus looked like the aftermath of a victory against University of Michigan. the streets rang with broadcasts of hope.
Controversy rose briefly during the DC festivities, as is the custom of American culture. We founded the nation on dissent and dissent will likely remain a major feature in this nation. News hosts, however, repeated during the week before the Inauguration that only in America is power handed over so readily from one administration to another. The peaceful transition of power was named several time during Inauguration broadcasts as a hallmark of Inauguration 2009. In some other nations, a new leader ascends only amid the bloodshed of coup.
Controversy surrounding the Inauguration festivites January 17 - 20 centered on religious customs. President-Elect Obama chose conservative pastor Rick Warren to pray for America and her people and some non-conservatives complained. At the same time, a Bishop that is homosexual was also chosen to pray for the President and the Nation; a Muslim was chosen; and Hindus and Buddhists were mentioned during the Inauguration. Mr. Obama acted to show unityreflecting the name of this Inauguration Concert, We Are One. Still, many faiths were not represented specifically may have felt slighted.
All in America deserve representation and protection from the Presidential Office. The public office is not a religious office, although the President may apply his faith in his own guidance. His or her responsibility ranges across all religious faiths and none, all genders, all races, all political parties, everyone. If Americans do not accept this, they will be subjecting themselves to increased stresses.
However, a small group have insulted the new President with profanity, claiming they do so because 'they are Christian', but that is not reasonable. They would seem to either hate minorities or wish to maintain a class of people over whom they might feel superior. Perhaps they claim Christianity in order to hide under a conservative label. IN any event, the existence of the Obama Administration may escalate their behaviors so they might be recognized.
President Obama seeks to continue President Lincoln’s work toward total freedom of all and some will not like this -- Not everyone in the country will accept it. A small group even expressed anger toward the mutual graciousness of Mr. Obama, the GOP, and the Democratic party – and of Fox News. Mr. Obama hosted a recognition dinner for John McCain to celebrate his long service to the United States on January 19, and some did not like that, either. They are free to dissent.
Sociologists told us in 1960 that it would take 3 generations (60 years) for significant change in society regarding race and class. We are into the last 20 years of this interval, so let this be the generation for change to become complete.
Tuskegee Airman On the Platform
The White House meeting before the Inauguration between the Bushes and the Obamas was warm, gracious, and friendly. One of Ronald Reagan's sons left a welcoming note in the desk in the Oval Office for President Obama as well. People on the National Mall jumped up and down and cheered. Spectators speaking on camera attested to the good will between conservatives and liberals in the crowds. People were remembering John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy and other national heroes that lived not long enough. An atmosphere of hope and a second chance at the hopeful Kennedy Era (cut too short) was in the air.
Mr. Spann Watson, 92 years old and a former Tuskegee airman, flew in Harry Truman's Inauguration celebration in 1949. He received a special invitation to Inauguration 2009.
Parallels were drawn between the Lincoln Administration and the Kennedy Administration and they drawn between Lincoln and Obama, as well as Kennedy and Obama. There is tremendous potential opportunity for good through 2012.
People worked hard to attend the Inauguration. I saw people in wheelchairs in the cold. Olympic Gold Medalist and boxing champion Muhammad Ali was led in walking slowly by a relative, suffering from a neurological condition, but determined to be there. Some dignitaries were practically carried to their platform seats, despite their afflictions. Ted Kennedy, diagnosed with a brain tumor, walked in under his own power in good spirits with a smile. He endured through part of the Inaugural Luncheon until he experienced a non-lethal seizure. His presence recalled Camelot and its unfulfilled future that America hopes Obama can bring forth. Vice President Cheney, was in a wheelchair, carrying a cane but smiling. People driving to the Inauguration had waited 5 hours by 10:00 AM. Reports stated that streets were filled at 4:00 AM. Correspondents pronounced the integrated crowd “well behaved” and joyous. Vendors were everywhere and assuredly this merchandise will be sold later for large sums on Ebay. A taxi driver played a CD of Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come.
Inclusiveness Despite Politics
I looked for Native American Chiefs from the nations supporting Mr. Obama during his campaign, but could not recognize any. One or two in regalia on the platform might have been thoughtful, especially given the proximity of the Museum of the American Indian at the nearby Smithsonian Institution. I did see a lot of mink coats and other real-fur garments on the platform.
Reporters stated that Mr. Obama attended the 2001 Inauguration activities, was ignored, and left early; so today was almost surreal in comparison. Teddy Roosevelt was the first President to include an African American, by inviting Booker T. Washington to march in his parade in 1905. Herbert Hoover in 1929 requested African American ushers for his Inauguration events, but did not get them because public and staff opinion was that this was a racial insult. the first fully integrated Inauguration was held in 1961 for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Unemployment on January 20 was at its highest percentage rate in 16 years, yet there was hope for new employment in sustainability and alternative energy sectors, as well as the massive infrastructure projects planned for Obama Administration. Similar to the TVA and other public works projects, the construction and revitalization of roads, bridges, and other structures presented many new job openings on a national scale. Revitalization had already proved a vital criterion in the success of the Best 25 Cities for Jobs and Business In America.
In an encouraging move, Laura Bush gave Michelle Obama an engraved journal and pen set in order to start her memoirs immediately. These should prove to be valuable historic documents.
A new Cadillac Presidential Limousine was furnished for Presidents Obama and Bush and the US Marine Corps Band played John Phillip Sousa marches as the motorcade proceeded to the Capitol Building. The car was bulletproof, as is necessary in the 21st century where violence is not yet elminated, and the motorcade was surrounded by DC Police Department and other security vehicles, while military members stood along the length of the motorcade route at attention, in salute.
Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech
Obama read Lincoln’s writings in preparation for his address, while Lincoln had read the US Constitution in preparation for his own Inaugural Speech.
All the former living US Presidents and First Ladies attended, with former First Lady and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to serve as Secretary of State. One US Senator objected to her appointment, so she could not be sworn in on Inauguration Day, yet she smiled. Each couple was announced with bugle fanfares and applause. Meanwhile, moving trucks wear shown at the back door of the White House, boxes unloaded for 92 staff members to unpack.
Mr. Obama addressed us "My fellow citizens", a departure from the usual "My fellow Americans." He thanked President Bush for his generosity and instructed us that we must uphold the Founding Documents of America.
He outlined challenges and problems of America and insisted that a greater number of individuals must take repsonsibility. He pointed out that America has chosen hope over fear and "The time has come to set aside childish things." (Bible: I Corinthians, 13:11). He told us how leisure, fame, and fortune will not fix America, but that work, especially skilled work is needed. He reminded us that immigrants (500+ years of them) worked hard to settle America, until their hands were raw.
The comment that may be best remembered is:
The question is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.
President Obama planned to eliminate any program that did not produce results, replacing them with those that would do so. And while America wants to be a friend to all nations, for our continuing enemies he had one statement:
We will outlast you and we will defeat you.
With this, he invoked the hope provided by George Washington in the bitter winter along the Delaware River during the American Revolution, spurring his troops and the colonists to victory.
Final Portion of the Benediction
Reverend Lowry's Benediction
Born in 1921, African American pastor and Civil Rights Leader Reverend James E. Lowry performed a refreshing benediction unlike some others at Inaugurations past.
He began with the recitation of the last stanza of the Negro/Black/African American National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, a song written originally to celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Reverend Lowry then prayed for America and the full community of all nations. He asked for an end to elitism and favoritism in our nation.
Then he made us smile:
When black will not be asked to get back,
When brown can stick around,
When yellow will be mellow,
When the red man can get ahead, man, and
When white will embrace what is right -
Let all those who'll do justice and love mercy say Amen (x 3)
Leontyne Price, Opera Star
Leontyne Price visited my vocal music class during the Civil Rights Movement and left a lasting impression on each of us. The video below records her impressions of America, racism, our progress and a performance of the Anthem.
Lift Every Voice, Last Stanza
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places,
Our God, where we met Thee;
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our GOD,
True to our native land
-- Written in 1900 by Mr. James Weldon Johnson (1871 - 1938)
The Hope of Our Dreams for America
Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die then life is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. - Langston Hughes
It is far worse to have 20/20 eyesight and no vision, than to be blind but have that vision. - Helen Keller
The Second Term Of a President: Inauguration 2013
- Inauguration 2013 - We Still Have Hope
It "wasn't exciting enough on its own." January 21, 2013; and Internet News Services chose the most mundane aspects of Inauguration 2013 to highlight in hopes of spreading yellow journalism - A daughter yawned. The First Lady rolled her eyes slightly