Birth of a Nation: The Inaugural of Barack Obama
Inauguration Day is a day that will live for the ages. Decades from now, we will be telling true stories about what we did during these historic hours. The trials and tribulations of the old depart; change, hope and a new president arrives. They said it couldn’t be done: the first black president, the first multicultural president, the first president since JFK to lift and inspire young people at home and around the world.
I walked to the Mall on Sunday with two elderly black ladies who asked me for directions; we walked together to the celebration. They were dressed beautifully for church. Their eyes were as bright as the evening star on a cloudless night, their smiles as radiant as the sun on a springtime morning. They had American flags on their Sunday hats and hearts that were bursting with joy because the dream that Kennedy said would never die came true before their loving and astonished eyes.
God put these wonderful ladies on earth some seven decades ago, but today they are young again, and this is the story of America.
D.W. Griffith’s film “Birth of a Nation” was made in 1915. He used techniques of cinematic brilliance that defined the future of the motion picture industry, but: This racist movie demonized blacks and led to the revival of the Ku Klux Klan some 140 years after Jefferson declared that all men are created equal and 50 years before bombs, bullets and bullwhips struck heroes asking nothing more than to redeem what King called the promissory note of the American idea.
Barack Obama aspires to be president of all of the people, all of the time. While it is a moment of profound historical import that he is the first black president, the implications are even more enormous than that. If Obama can lift our economy along with our spirits, working-class white voters will forever admire this new president for lifting their economy, and their lives, in ways that will change them, and us, and America, forever.
Today I think of my friend Andrea, who heard me as a guest on the Randi Rhodes radio show, and dropped me a note to tell me how her daughter Jessica had made her a Barack Rocks shirt.
Today this single mom and her wonderful daughter join two 70-something women to celebrate their moment of changing history in the great bridge America builds across the generations for the dreams that never die in the land where dreams come true.
Tomorrow will be a day to remind Barack Obama that he has not merely won a powerful office, he has inherited a sacred trust. Real change means real change in a city that is far too corrupted, in a nation whose many establishments have led our democracy astray, in a world that yearns for America to return to the ideals that can make us a beacon of light for all who are destitute and despairing.
Today is a day to remember that the land of the free and the home of the brave is the stuff that dreams are made of, where hope springs eternal, where the idea of America is forever young, where the spirit of America is born again every day, where the hope of America is renewed with each new generation.
Today is a day to remember the timeless truth that our forebears left to us, that when things are really tough, when the chips are down and the sky is dark, the people who are in this together shall overcome so long as we remember who we are, and why we are here, and what it means to be an American.
We share today the latest birth of the greatest nation in the place that is forever young, where we look to the skies for inspiration while we put our shovels to the ground and thank our Lord for giving us these moments to be part of this incredible land we call America.