Reflection on the 2nd Inauguration of President Obama
We did it again!
What a joy it was to partake of this momentous event through the eyes of “on the ground” community organizers from Lawrence (MA.)
Four years ago the sense was one of exhilaration. Experiencing Barack Obama’s first Inauguration was amazing and uplifting. A historic event to rival anything else that we’ve experienced in civic life. Once in a lifetime stuff. Stories for grandchildren. Pictures – and videos – for a lifetime. (Indeed, if you want to relive our memories for the first Inauguration, you can find them here.)
The second time around was a time of affirmation. We’ve got lots of work to do. There’s so much unfinished business. There is so much new business! Of course we celebrated. Of course we were overjoyed. And – not but! – the sentiment was obviously different. To call it more subdued misses the point… Maybe more matured. Maybe more experienced. Maybe more down-to-earth. Maybe more realistic – yet no less dynamic, brilliant, positive, or inspiring.
Our friends from Lawrence were simply awesome. As it was four years ago, it was simply awesome to experience an event such as the Inauguration through the eyes of someone that has never been to Washington, D.C.; someone that came to this country only 10 years ago; or someone that has worked in the a community like Lawrence all their live empowering the disenfranchised.
The connection to our local community was also awesome! Thanks to the leadership of Frankie Blackburn, Bill Traynor, Ronnie Galvin, Impact Silver Spring, and friends we were able host over 20 folks from Lawrence in private home. Thanks to El Golfo Restaurant we had a our own ‘pep rally’ the evening before, joined my many others in our community… And, thanks to the wonderful organization Center for the Study of Social Policy (in D.C.) we were able to rest our feet after the Inauguration and let the crowds die down a bit before we came back for some delicious chili at Bill’s house.
Four years ago, Geraldina and I hosted three ladies from the visiting group. This year (due to our empty nest days being over!) we could host only two… Nonetheless, it was great. (Except that Benny our fat, blind Chihuahua ate one of our guest’s snacks that she left in her room.)
There was a certain moment in the ceremony that was particularly personally meaningful and powerful.
After the President gave his speech laying out his agenda for his second term and clearly and succinctly expressing what is important as we move forward, two speakers took the podium that simply put made me very, very proud of my Cuban heritage.
Richard Blanco’s poem was riveting. His references to his sugar-cutting dad and grocery bagging mom were emotional indeed. (You can find the full 6 minute poem HERE.) Richard grew up in Miami and now lives with his gay partner in Maine.
Then, Luis Leon, an Episcopal Pastor followed with the benediction. Rev. Leon came to the U.S. as a member of Operation Peter Pan in the early 60’s and has is now a Pastor at St. John’s Church next to the White House. It was touching to hear him speak a few words in Spanish as part of his benediction.
So now what? The exhilarating feeling from four years ago is certainly gone. But, the affirmation that the path we are on is “a good thing” is increasingly rooted in our cultural psyche. Of course serious division and dissent exist. It would not be America without that!
Oh, what an experience it was! Moving forward, we draw strength from our friends from Lawrence, the million folks from throughout the County with whom we shared the National Mall for this event, and our friends right here in our neighborhood and community in Silver Spring with whom we’ll continue working to build community right here at home.
For pictures and videos: Go HERE.
POSTCRIPT: Messages from our Lawrence friends:
"I think the word " THANKS" even if I say it twenty times is not enough to summarize such an amazing experience and hospitality from great, compassionate team of friends at Silver Spring. Every time we get together our soul gets refueled with energy and aspirations and most important togetherness and friendship. May we all continue moving forward with the same vision and sense of community for our country and our cities. Thanks to all our hosts, members of both amazing organizations Impact Silver Spring and Lawrence CommunityWorks for making a big difference in our lives."
"I would like to take a few minutes of your time to thank you all for allowing me to join you in this amazing experience. It was my very first time meeting most of you, and going to an inauguration. It was an experience I will never forget and am glad to have made new friends like you all! Thanks for the amazing hospitality to all the Silver Spring folks and for such a well organized seemless orchistration to both organizations!"
"I do want to take a minute to thank all of you Silver Spring folks for starting this tradition and going way out of your way to make us feel comfortable and at home. It is a BIG deal for us to be able to come down and experience this moment in our democratic process, especially when we can do it with those who are so similar to us in passion, spirit and mission. Thank you all again. And anytime you all want to come and visit the doors are wide open."
"Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each and every one of you for the opportunity to participate in this retreat and allowing me the privilege to experience the inauguration in Washington with all of your friends, family and fellow coworkers. Even though I was a new face to you all, I felt like I was a face you knew all along, all that was missing was a little Spanish and I would've felt like a part of the family haha. I honestly hope that your experience with me was as wholesome, uplifting, and optimistic as it was for me. The fact that each and every one of you have sincerity and compassion not just for one another but your surrounding communities is nothing less than a blessing."
"I'd like to once again say, Thank you to our friends in Silver Spring!! I had an amazing time with you all and I hope that you come visit soon!"
"I could write for hours about how special this past weekend's trip was, but I'll try to keep it brief. First, I'd like give a huge thanks to the Silver Spring folks for their wonderful hospitality. Based on the stories I had heard about the previous LCW inauguration trip, I knew that we'd be in good hands. However, the kindness and positive energy I was met with upon our arrival in Silver Spring far exceeded my expectations. It's great to know that LCW's network of passionate individuals who are committed to positive social change span far beyond the city of Lawrence. I couldn't have asked for a better group to share such a powerful and uplifting experience with."