My father didn’t tell many stories and he rarely repeated one, so it may have only been once that he told me about how he and a bunch of his young pals jumped in a car on March 4, 1933* and drove down to Washington, DC to attend the first Inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In those simpler days, security was nowhere near the level it is today and they were not only able to see the transfer of power and hear the Inaugural Address, which began with this paragraph and one of the most famous political phrases in the nation’s history…
I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
…they were able to crash the Inaugural Ball itself and mingle with the swells.
The two million or so people expected in DC today for an Inauguration which promises to be as historic as that one will not have that sort of freedom, but the excitement of being there should be enough to warrant tales they too will tell, somewhere down the line.
I am old enough to have lived in the final years of that other America, the separate-but-equal, no colored allowed America and cannot help but cite the cliche of the moment: I never thought I’d live to see this happen.
Cliches become cliches because they are true.
My delight today is magnified by the same factor that makes this an extra special day for millions, indeed the vast majority, of Americans: No. More. Bush. No. More. Cheney.
We have our country back, significantly damaged, terribly weakened, with a guilty hangover for the crimes and sins we have allowed to be committed in our names, but back in the hands of a government which, we profoundly hope and believe, will return America to the ideals and principles that once made this a great nation.
*Yes, they didn’t inaugurate the new president for over four months back in those days. Wanna get depressed? Just imagine facing two more months of the Worst. President. Ever. when you awakened this morning.