Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's (First?) Inaugural Address

NYTimes has a transcription of Obama's inaugural address along with crowd responses (chants, applause). I did not envy Elizabeth Alexander who had to speak after Obama--he's a difficult act to follow. Here was my favorite part:

At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

This was the end of the speech, and a strong ending at that. I thought this was artfully done, how he took the images from Washington describing natural conditions that matched social ones, and then transformed these conditions of the Revolutionary War into a metaphor for our current circumstances, the "winter of our hardship" and "icy currents," alongside persistent values of "hope" and "virtue," hope, of course, being a big part of Obama's campaign: "Hope We Can Believe In." But don't let my commentary ruin the speech for you.

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