No, it's not my age, not yet - don't rush me. But it is President Obama's number. 44. The 44th President of the United States. Pretty amazing. Incredibly historic.
I rushed in from my car at 8:41 AM this morning to tune into the inauguration via streaming video in my office. I was logged in and watching by the time Aretha Franklin took the stage. And the video feed only went out on me once during Obama's inaugural address -- during which time I was stressing out and cussing like a truck driver -- because I very much wanted to hear what he had to say. All of it.
From the opening, "My fellow citizens..." to the closing ..."And God bless the United States." I wanted to hear it all.
I have to admit though, that what struck me most about the whole she-bang was Obama's inability to repeat the oath itself. And his composure at his inability to repeat the oath. He just looked straight ahead with a half smile on his face and waited for the lines to be repeated to him. Of course they would be. But for those few moments it seemed, to me, that we were able to glimpse his own realization of the enormity of the moment, of his accomplishment, of the seemingly overwhelming tasks that lie ahead of him.
I very much enjoyed his address as well. He was back to the amazingly composed person that we've become accustomed to seeing. It was not as soaring and lofty as some of his prior speeches, it was almost sobering, really, but it worked. It worked for me anyway. I want a President who is humbled, grateful, mindful. I want a leader who will strive to lead with "hope and virtue." And I want a leader who is committed to keeping our nation safe, but is not willing to compromise our ideals while doing so (the video I was watching panned immediately, and perfectly, to the departing President). I also like a leader who thinks to include "nonbelievers" in his list of religions practiced by US citizens.
I look forward to his upcoming speeches, to the new energy he and his administration will bring to DC, to watching him try to turn things around.
As I a bell ringer said to an NPR reporter yesterday in Washington, "50% of marriages end in divorce, and 50% of presidencies bring disillusionment, but the beginnings, the weddings and the inaugurations, these are something to be celebrated." (Or something like that.)
So here's to the next 4 years...