I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the president's inauguration ceremony this year, and was so glad I did. I think I was prepared for the spectacle - the pomp that inevitably surrounds an event of this magnitude. I was unprepared to be as encouraged as I feel right now. Not only by Obama's speech, which was one of the most thoughful speeches I've heard, but by the people surrounding me the whole ceremony.
"That is our generation's task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time." - Pres. Obama
The president stated most eloquently what the people who journeyed so far to see him believe - none of them were waiting for the perfect answer, the perfect solution. But everyone in that crowd was wanting action, wanting to work, wanting to make these United States the ideal we all strive to. I was hard put to put my finger on the vibe I was getting from all these people I spent hours with out in the cold until Obama spoke it, but once he did it seemed obvious.
These thousands upon thousands of people were excited, not to just see famous people and dignitaries, but to continue the work. To continue what they signed this man up for - hope and change. The crowd was surprisingly subdued in a way. There definitely still excitment, still energy, still cheering, but I thought it was most interesting that, once the president was done speaking, a huge amount of the crowd started to leave. Most knew Beyonce was about to perform, most knew famous people were still gathered. But they came to hear the president, they came to hear how he was going to live up to the duties they elected him to fulfill.
I wasn't prepared to feel this encouraged, even inspired by the day. But I was most unprepared for how proud I would feel of my country - and not because of the anthems sung or the flags everywhere. It was a moment of realization that this huge mass of Americans were all there with different ideas, different opinions, different journeys, but all there because they truly had hope for their country. Thousands of Americans all agreeing that we can, and will, make things better.