Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Statuary Hall and the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama

Watching the inauguration coverage on ABC TV today, I learned something I didn't know. I had never heard of National Statuary Hall where the luncheon was held. Today I learned that it has held two statues for each state with people born in those states, so I decided to look up who represented Colorado.

1. Florence R. Sabin. She was born in Central City, Colorado, in 1871. She became the first woman to hold a full medical professorship in the United States, at Johns Hopskins, her alma mater, where she was also the first woman graduate. She is also famous for the "Sabin Health Laws" that modernized Colorado's public health system.

2. John Swigert - went by Jack. You may remember him as being portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the movie Apollo 13. Jack Swigert was one of 24 people in the world to have flown to the moon. He was elected to Congress but died of cancer before being sworn in. He was the first of the 24 to die, in 1982. In December 2008 John Swigert's statue was moved and displayed in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

So who is in the Statuary Hall representing your state? (You can consider this a Meme and that you are tagged, if you wish.)

I watched the inauguration with my classes. Were I there, I would be overwhelmed by all the ritual and ceremony - too much going on for the sake of tradition, etc. - it would just make me tired.

A few things in his speech I liked:

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

I like that he pointed out the childishness of America and called on Americans to rise to higher ideals that we claim to hold but have not always lived up to. I like how he then called people to hard work to improve the situation we're in, noting that greatness is earned, not given, and that even though the task seems great, Americans and the rest of humanity have countless examples in their past of even greater accomplishments. This is one of Obama's strengths - as in the title of his book, he really does have the audacity to hope, and what is more, the will, energy, charisma, intelligence, and dedication to make things happen.

"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

I am not sold on Obama's foreign policy, but I do expect it to be better than what we've had. And I think if he lives up to this call of mutual respect, that would be a great improvement over the current situation.

"This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny."

I appreciate his confidence because I think it is something the country could use right now. I also appreciate his faith, and his concept of accountability or responsibility in molding our individual destinies and our collective destiny. It doesn't just happen to us, we have some power and responsibility in making it.

I have a desire to be hopeful about this president, more so than any in my life so far. I think the cult of personality may be a bit overdone, but I still believe this could, God willing, be the beginning of better things to come. Time will tell.

No comments: