Journey begins now

Published 8:07 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – A famous philosopher once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

That single one step forward began in our nation’s capital on a bright, but cold day on Tuesday when Barack Obama raised his right hand and accepted the oath to become the 44th President of the United States.

In doing so, he not only broke the color barrier that has ruled the highest elected office in the land since the days of George Washington, he brought with it a high level of excitement, not just for his race, but for all Americans.

Gauging the reaction of those with their eyes and ears fixed upon the television during Tuesday’s Presidential Inauguration, the anticipation of a new beginning…the proverbial dawning of a new day…has not been noted since another young man from a Northern state, the late John F. Kennedy, took office in 1961.

Pre-inauguration polls show Americans believe Obama is on track to succeed and express confidence the new president can turn the economy around. But the 47-year-old Obama cautioned that recovery needs time and that things will get worse before they get better.

During his 18 and one-half minute inauguration speech, Obama said, “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

The new President specifically addressed those challenges, mentioning the wars on foreign soil, the economy, Americans losing their homes and jobs, the loss of businesses, expensive healthcare, the energy crisis and failing schools.

In regards to the tough challenges that lie ahead, President Obama remarked, “Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”

The President stated he was confident that Americans will put the country back on track.

“We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

He continued, “For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

The President aimed a portion of his speech at other nations, friends and foes alike.

“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.

“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.”