Islander's Blog

Front seat to history

As Barack Obama takes the oath of office Tuesday, staff writer Josh Gray will be in attendance and will share some thoughts on the proceedings held throughout the day.

As with any presidential inauguration there are those stationary elements that belong to almost every single one. Every four years a newly-elected or incumbent president will utter his oath of office, many times preceded by musical performances and other orations.

As solemn as the oath of office is, the inaugural address has always carried with it a measure of expectation. While there are those that stand out above the rest, many do not meet that expectation and the poignancy of their words fade with time. There are those, however, spoken by some of the greatest orators in American history, that stand the test of time. These words become part of the fabric of the American experience and are as easily brought to mind as Pearl Harbor or Armstong’s first steps on to the surface of the moon.

With the inauguration of Barack Obama, Americans are faced with a transcendent event. It is a moment in time that reaches beyond party politics or affiliations, geographic divides and ideologies. Those who refuse to acknowledge this forget that they are, above all else, Americans. It is our duty as citizens to come together for the common good in order that the whole may prosper.

As the first African-American president, but also a man who has fully experienced the potential of the American dream, one that reaches beyond class or race, President Obama carries with him the highest of expectations from his fellow citizens. This may be a result of his message of hope and his slogan that together, “yes we can,” or it may be that we sense in him the undeniable presence of a true leader and a remarkable communicator in the modern tradition of FDR or Kennedy.

I will be in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to stand at the foot of the Capitol steps with the expectation that I am there to witness a moment for the ages, one that I will never forget, one that I will one day share with my children and grandchildren.

My expectations are high, but I believe that is as it should be. On this day the rhetoric ends and the real work begins. In what have become some of most difficult times for Americans in modern history, the next four years will help determine Obama’s place in the succession of presidents. I will take him at his word, remembering his call for a return to greatness, and I will hope, near the foot of those storied marble steps, that I have been fortunate enough to watch history unfold.

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