Wednesday, January 21, 2009
WE HAVE A NEW PRESIDENT!
Wow. Yesterday, 20 January 2009, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Although, of course, I would have loved nothing more than to be standing on the Mall with the millions of other proud Americans...Edinburgh was not such a bad alternative. For a few hours, the city was swept by Obamafever as all eyes were fixated on BBC News.
Some friends and I headed over to a pub called Native State around 4 pm (11 am your time) and it was already pretty packed. People with all sorts of different accents were crowding around the tables and televisions to witness history in the making. Luckily, we were able to snag the last table available and the group of us settled in and prepared ourselves. Everything was beautiful. Everyone was smiling. By the time the procedure began, I'd say somewhere between 100-200 people had packed themselves in to the tiny pub. The excitement in the room was palpable (as was the relief). As we watched the parade of politicians and former presidents arrive, the natives made their feelings towards FORMER! President George W. Bush known through a mishmash of boos and loud snickers. People continued to chitchat through Aretha and somewhat through bigot Rick Warren, but all came to a hush as soon as Joe Biden took his oath. When it was Obama's turn, you could hear a pin drop. There was obviously some laughter during the Roberts/Obama flub (honestly though, if you're going to have the President of the United States repeat his oath of office following after you, at the very LEAST get the wording correct!!) but it quickly subsided. And then it was over. I am still shocked by how short is passed by- 35 words is nothing! There was cheering, crying, clapping, and an overall happiness to usher in the new president. Even moreso, perhaps, was the general relief that the past 8 years has finally, finally come to an end, and that the dreadful chapter in our history is over.
Obama's speech was realistic, forceful, yet hopeful. I particularly enjoyed his inclusion of non-believers (yeah!) and his vow to restore the importance of science. My favorite quote, though, was "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals." A huge and necessary slap to Bush's face. Beautiful! As he finished, there was more clapping, cheering, and overall I realized that it was a bad day for me to wear eye make-up.
America under George Bush is really all I've ever known, and I really couldn't be any more excited for that to all change.
Here's a video I recorded during Obama's oath. Sorry for the poor quality but the lighting was pretty bad. I tried to do a pan-shot of the crowd at the end, but it's sort of hard to see, so use your imagination! Enjoy.
It's truly something I will remember forever, and I'm glad I was able to experience in a foreign country.
And as a final farewell to Mr. Bush, here is this ridiculously amusing yet depressing video:
Bright side: It honestly can't get any worse than that!
(P.S. The first image at the top of the post was taken on August 28th, 1963, at the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The second image was taken yesterday during the inauguration. Moving.)