As long as I live I will never forget how I felt today as I ventured with millions of others to catch my own glimpse of history. It is truly a matchless and moving atmosphere here in DC as the city is bursting with excitement around every corner and millions become a part of this unique transition of power on Capitol Hill.
Making our way to the Capitol building, we were surrounded by all walks of life – celebrators, protesters, black, white – who have come to make their statement about their feelings on today’s events. It is during a time like this that I realize just how critical our rights secured by the First Amendment remain to aiding in this smooth transition of power. Everyone is eager to share their opinions on what this moment means to our future, and I felt blessed to live in a country where freedom of expression remains not just a privilege, but a rite of passage.
Yet, despite the excitement that surrounds me today, I also met with disappointment. Due to the incredible number of people who have come here to witness the events of this day, I was unable to make it to the ticketed areas at the Capitol building or to the Mall. Overselling the event and not opening the seating areas till 8am caused lines to stretch for miles, and to wait in them would mean missing the swearing-in ceremony itself.
Instead, we returned to the hotel to make sure we didn’t miss the live take of Obama’s inauguration acceptance speech. Although we were disappointed we couldn’t make it to our seats, just to be in Washington and in the middle of all the excitement was a worthwhile experience.
To me, today seemed to overwhelmingly exude a message of peace and hope, from Obama’s speech to peace activists on Madison Ave. Just walking around the city today made me realize the immense responsibility that rests on Obama’s shoulders to fulfill the promises that have brought so much joy and hope to the people of this city. As people were literally dancing in the street in celebration, the reality is that the journey ahead has just begun.
Like President Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan, President Obama now follows in their footsteps to reunite a broken country and determine the best possible policies and future plans for not just Americans, but for people around the world.
As globalization highlights people’s differences, whether it is racial, political, or religious, it remains up to us to decide how we want our future to unfold. To me life is about choice, and we all have the ability to choose whether that’s a path of love or hate, war or peace, wisdom or ignorance, truth or lies.
As Obama takes his place in the Oval Office, I believe we have the ability to choose what is right and to help him make not only the people of this country great, but also the people throughout the world.