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The Eloquence is in the Moment

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:33 AM
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The Eloquence is in the Moment
The Eloquence is in the Moment
By David Shribman

It was, in the end, a moment beyond the reach of words.

For a brief hour yesterday, a country of clanging factories and clicking keyboards, of conflict and contention, of office conversations and street confrontations, was transformed into a country of contemplation -- about hope and the potential it unleashes, about freedom and the bounty it provides, about purpose and the sacrifices it requires.

It was a momentous transition, from one president to another, from one image of the presidency to another, perhaps from one era to another. But it also marked a transition for the man at the center of the proceedings.

For yesterday the nation paused -- not in grief but in remembrance, not in celebration but in solemnity, not in raucous joy but in quiet fulfillment -- a fulfillment not only of a man's dream but also of a nation's promise.

Seldom in more than two centuries of American history has there been a moment of such profound symbolism. And if Barack Obama's Inaugural Address lacked a quotation for the ages, it was because what the nation saw was so much more important than what the president said.

The nation saw millions of its people filling the Washington Mall, their eyes focused on a black man taking the oath of office at the West Front of the Capitol, two miles and 46 years away from the moment at the Lincoln Memorial when a black man pleaded for his people's freedom, and for the liberation of us all from our most ancient civic sin.

The nation saw a black hand resting on the burgundy velvet of a Bible used to swear in the first president from Illinois, a lawyer and onetime rail splitter who saved the Union, redeemed America's promise to future generations and freed more than the slaves.

The nation saw a black chanteuse of incomparable range, the first lady of soul, serenade the woman who would soon become the first lady herself.

The nation saw, in the reflecting pool of its own conscience, the better angels of our nature -- angels that Lincoln alone saw even in the darkening clouds of the Civil War, that Woodrow Wilson summoned as he took America into World War I, that Franklin Roosevelt revived in the depths of a Depression both economic and spiritual, that John F. Kennedy mobilized in a hundred thoughts he sowed into the nation's conscience, and that Ronald Reagan revived when he reminded us that America still awoke to a bright morning and wasn't destined to expire in a dark twilight.

Seldom in more than two centuries of American history has there been an intersection of such profound symbolism.

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