Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

Cologne, Germany
January 21, 2009

Yesterday, far from home, I stood with a room of others like me, and cheered the coming of a new age. I will not see another like him in my lifetime. I knew it when I heard him speak, and when he craned his neck to watch Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman sing out through their instruments a new day in America, I realized for the first time how young he was, how vital and inspired and ready.

There were probably a few dozen of us in the room, Americans who had come together to celebrate the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. I didn’t know most of them and it wasn’t until the Nation Anthem was played and we lifted our hands to our hearts that the Americans stood out from the Europeans, not until the tears welled up in our eyes that we recognized each other and nodded our heads in recognition across the room. We were a diverse group; artists and diplomats, philanthropists and business executives, mothers and fathers and students but we all knew we were witnessing history in the making.

The Inauguration of a President is by its very nature a moment of historical significance, but even by the long measure of history, yesterday was somehow special. The challenges our country faces are legion, but it wasn’t the problems that distinguished this Inauguration from those that preceded it, it was the embracing promise of a wise and capable young President to lead us by example toward a better future.

To say I wish him well is a meager expression of how I feel. I know he will do well, I know he will do his best and his best is our best and so I am confident that America is in good hands. What I hope, and this is the challenge that hangs in the air this morning, is that the millions of Americans who harbor doubts about this man will slowly learn to trust him, that the politicians with whom he must work to mend the wounds of war and partisan infighting will respond to his call to service and that the voices of division and hate in our country and elsewhere, will at long last join in a dialogue of reconciliation.

Godspeed President Obama.