It was on Super Tuesday when I landed in New York last year, February 5, 2008. The air at Penn Station was charged with politics and so, on the train from New York to Washington DC, people were talking about politics on their mobile phones and groups spontaneously formed to discuss the latest news.
At that time, I didn’t realize I would still be in DC for the Presidential Inauguration 2009. In fact, I wasn’t aware of this until much later, in October after a canvassing afternoon for the Obama campaign in Madison, Wisconsin.
Almost one year is over and so is the Inauguration 2009. To repeat what blogs and newspapers have already said; DC witnessed a four days celebration with dozens events and millions of people. Personally, I had an incredible time and it was truly a privilege to have taken part so intensively in this historic moment.
I know, there are many pictures and videos available. Nevertheless, I’d like to share with you my own perspective of the Inauguration 2009. The gallery is a collection of impressions from both the We Are One Inaugural Celebration on Sunday and the Inauguration 2009 on Tuesday. I have taken a video of one of the U2 songs (if you read this, yes, I have thought of you, remember the Elevation tour in Zurich?) as well as Obama’s speech at the Inaugural Celebration.
On Monday, Martin Luther King’s, Jr. 80iest birthday was commemorated with a free concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. With her incredible soul, voice, red dress and long dark curly hair, Aretha Franklin captured the audience as one would expect at a major rock concert, rather than at an Opera House. It was an incredible moment. The evening started with a prayer; have you ever hold hands with your neighbors at an Opera House? Later during the evening, Marian Wright Edelman was given an award for her life’s work, in particular for her constant fight for the rights of children. On the line of the evening’s words of Georgetown University’s President,
Rosa sat, so that Martin could walk, so that Obama can run, so that our children will fly (John J. DeGioia)
Marian reminded that “we are going to end poverty, that’s our challenge”. (On a side note, the entire concert, including the words of songs, was translated to American Sign Language for deaf people.)
It was cold, as it was the days before, on Tuesday. It didn’t stop millions to gather at the National Mall, sitting, standing and dancing from dawn to noon, cheering Biden and Obama, booing Cheney and Bush. Even for a European who only marginally experienced the last eight years of this country, it was impossible to overhear the profound sense of liberation expressed by the people, the hundreds around my ears, the millions at the National Mall. I have taken a video of Biden’s as well as Obama’s swearing-in (which, admittedly, could have been smoother).
Now, almost a year later, the air is charged again, this time with hope. Hope in change, hope in Obama’s 510 campaign promises and hope in, perhaps, thousands of other things. The campaign slogan has been used and abused; I think it is time to remind ourselves that it is not Obama who will change the US, it is not the US that will change the world but it is us. I believe, we have to face once again our individual responsibility for improving the way we are with ourselves, with others, with nature.
(Note: The videos require QuickTime Plug-in. If you would like to see the sequences in another file format, feel free to leave a comment.)