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Inauguration Day: A Poem, A Prayer, and A Promise

By LeaderTalk Contributor — January 20, 2009 2 min read

As I write this post we are approaching midnight on the west coast. It is January 19. In a matter of hours, Barack Obama will ascend to the presidency. In that ascension there are unfathomable challenges and opportunities. He will be asked to shoulder the weight of the world-- and simultaneously, to redeem America’s promise of equality and justice-- once... and for all.

But Inaugural Day is first a time for celebration. For own my part, I offer a Poem, a Prayer, and a Promise:

The Poem I wrote in the euphoric days immediately following the November election. It is called “A Poem For Barack Obama Upon The Inauguration of America.” It is a little long for this post, and perhaps not everyone is ready to be challenged to view this extraordinary moment through the lens of our history. So I have included the link.

The Prayer is a collective one. That, on this remarkable day, our God will bless the new President and his family and grant him the strength, and courage, and wisdom... and the time ... to lead our nation back to a path of peace and prosperity.

The Promise...is actually one that comes from the President himself. In a recent letter to his two young daughters, President Obama wrote:

“I realized that my own life wouldn’t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that’s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.”

His letter, “What I Want for You-- And Every Child In America”, appeared in Parade Magazine this past Sunday and there is no doubt about his regard for children and the schools that serve them:

“I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential- schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college- even if their parents aren’t rich.”

His letter is a call to action and an implicit promise of his own leadership in providing all children a future of unlimited possibility. It is, fittingly, a letter of Hope. After all, Barack Obama has merely ascended to the most difficult job on the face of the earth-- to become the most powerful living human being-- to make the world a better place for the daughters that he loves so dearly. He has risen above paralyzing political divisions for the opportunity to change the course of America. To become our president, he had to transcend centuries of racism, intractable prejudice, and a tortured national history of self-hatred that still manifests itself in pockets of bigotry and intolerance.

The sun is set to rise upon America in a matter of hours.

January 20, 2009-- a defining moment in our long struggle to be “America”. It is our resurrection. It is our time. From this day, we all lean in to change the world.

Kevin Riley

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.