January 20, 2009

It’s difficult to express in words the true significance of the event that took place in our nation’s capitol yesterday. All I can do is offer my own impressions.

“Our challenges 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… What is demanded then is a return to these truths.”

We can be a United States when we come back to the traditional values that this country was founded on.

“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 come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

Americans are tired of business as usual.  If we are to move forward, we need to take responsibility, to watch, listen and communicate our needs.

We need an end to the bickering and partisanship.

“…the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”

We need a government “…of the people, by the people, for the people.”

“I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed…”

We need our elected officials to honor the trust we have placed in them, put down their differences, and conduct the business of the people rather than the business of politics.

“…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… Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.  For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.”

Each of us needs to be mindful of our own responsibilities to rebuild the country in both body and spirit.

“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.”

Clear, concise words that remind us all of the challenges ahead and the opportunity before us to once again become the world’s standard of honesty and integrity, fairness and compassion, respect, and responsibility.

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