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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama!


President Obama, it has such a nice ring to it, wouldn't you say? I was really excited when I realized that my MTV Books blog day fell on Inauguration Day. Sure I have some exciting news of my own to share. Like I finished revisions on my second MTV book, Ballads of Suburbia, but you can read all about that over on my blog here. And I got engaged over the holidays, but I squeed and showed off the ring here. But today is so much bigger than that. This morning I sat in my basement with my fiance and my father and watched our new president be sworn in. And our new Commander in Chief is a Chicago White Sox fan. It doesn't get much better than that.

But seriously, it is a monumental day for our country that will go down in the history books for all the right reasons.

I'm 29 years old and before Obama was elected the only day in my life where I thought "This is it, I've lived through something that kids will be reading about in history books centuries from now" was September 11th. And it made me so sad to think that horrible day might be the historical event that stands out most in my life. But now there is a moment in history that makes me smile and glow with pride: I helped elect the first African American as President of the United States. Even if you didn't vote for Obama, I'm sure you will agree that breaking down this racial barrier is momentous and incredibly positive. I have to say I'm tearing up again just thinking about it.

The thing that has excited me about Barack Obama all along is the way he inspires so many people, young and old. I think that the only way change will come to this country is if we work together and Obama is the kind of leader who can motivate us to do that. He seems realistic about the challenges our country is facing and we need to be, too. Things are not going to be all better in a year or four or eight, but we can begin the process of building roads to a better tomorrow. Yeah, that was kind of a cheesy phrase. I can't write those great Obama style speeches.

I really loved his inaugural address. It's a nice change of pace from watching former president Bush (oh it felt good to say "former"!). Seriously, I think my customers at the bar have better oratory skills than that guy. Sorry, I just like having a president that is well-spoken and smarter than me. Obama definitely is. His speech today got me teary-eyed and also really keyed up and excited. I've been very cynical about the state of the world since I was a teenager, but today I felt hopeful.

One of my favorite things that Obama said today was: "Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

That reminded me not to be cynical. To dream big and believe that change can come to our country and our world.

Another fave quote: "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. "

Over the last eight years, I watched in fear as we became embroiled in war and were stripped of our civil liberties. It angered me to see big business profit so greatly while so many hardworking Americans lost their jobs and homes. But those words replaced fear and anger with hope and hope is a far more productive emotion.

To bring it back to writing somehow, doing revisions on Ballads of Suburbia was a really rough process. I had a few nervous breakdowns where I was scared I couldn't meet the challenge and angry at myself for not getting it right, but then I remembered that I was writing this story because I hoped it would help people. That hope is what forced me to see it through.

So I have hope for our country. I'm excited about "remaking America" and want to be actively involved. I know I'll continue to speak out about issues that are important to me via my fiction and my blog, but watching Obama's address today reminded me that I need to be a more active member of my community, so I'm going to start hunting for local volunteer opportunities.

What about you? How has President Obama's message of change inspired you? Any favorite lines from the speech? The full transcript is here if you need a reference point. Where'd you watch it and who'd you watch it with? Had you ever watched an inauguration before? I never had. Even my dad said the only one he ever remembered seeing was Kennedy's which they watched on TV in grade school.

Honestly I wish I'd been capable of writing a better blog about how I felt today, but it was all so exciting and overwhelming. And I think the best part of this day has been basking in the excitement with people via text message and email and facebook and twitter. So please indulge me and share your feelings about today.

5 comments:

Anna R said...

this was a great Blog- I loveeed it.
Yes today was so exciting. I helped on My Space and contacted ppl but couldn't vote - well, If I had at 16 I guess I would have gotten arrested? hehe. I had my countdown the days calendar filled with Bush quotes. But the best part fo rme was seeing my grandpa.
He used to write speeches and was in politics some and he couldn't stand Bush speak. Today the speech was so great for him. He also Marched on Washington with Doctor King. There weren't too many White guys in that audience- lots on the stage- but just being there, no- not too many. I am so proud of him. I posted a blog about that Day on My Space.
I am glad I was alive to see this. I just hope I will be able to vote for another term for our President. ILY

julia said...

I was moved to tears by President Obama's speech. I was in awe by his eloquence and how he spoke of America. I was at home (I'm home schooled) and watched with my parents. The dog even stopped barking when President Obama began to speak.

"We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you." was my favorite line from the speech. It gave me an overwhelming sense of patriotism.

Jeri said...

I still can't find the words to express how this has all made me feel. Maybe I never will. I've watched every inauguration since I was a kid, except for Bush's second one. None of them had such an impact as Obama's. My mom says this was the most meaningful one to her since Kennedy's.

The whole speech was wonderful--I can't pull out a quote without pasting the whole thing! :-) There are so many strong statements there about this new beginning that we desperately need.

BTW, I just started reading Audacity of Hope, which is a phenomenal book. Makes me realize we're in really good hands.

Danielle Joseph said...

Steph, what a great blog entry! And I agree that it is amazing to be a part of such a joyous time in history. One of my favorite moments was when my six year old son said to me, "Mom, I think I like Barack even more than you!"

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thank you all for sharing these beautiful moments with you. And wow, Anna R, what a cool grandpa you have!

Jeri, I need to read Audacity of Hope!