Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Proud to be American

Happy Inauguration Day! Don't you just love how it has become a happy holiday in the midst of so much that is heavy in the world today? Mom tells me it was even a surprise snow day in Raleigh - so what a perfect bonus for everyone to witness today tucked in at home, together and snowbound with family.

It was a VERY busy day in Brussels. Thank goodness for the time change so it was actually 5:30 PM our time when Obama took office. We snuggled in to our apartment as it started to pour rain outside. Kirk was home early and we had our first houseguest, Courtney Leavitt, my sister from New Jersey, visiting us. We cooked dinner and played in our living room amidst this oh-so-historic event on TV. How can you not be moved by what took place?

Being in Europe and seeing the "outside-looking-in perspective" of America, I am delighted for the USA with Obama's presidency. Admittedly I have not always been a diehard Obama supporter, so the power of his "change" is definitely at work in me. And I am a firm believer in providing unwavering support to our leaders who choose to serve us with their lives and passion - so that is what we are doing - with loving and prayerful hearts for President Obama's wisdom, strength and courage. One of my favorite moments today was the unprecedented sendoff of the Obamas with the Bushs. As the commentator said it was "laced with symbolism" - but when it comes down to it, it was just the right, touching, kind, unifying thing to do. I have read story after story of these new little touches of inclusion already so much a part of this presidency, which must add up to the swell of something extraordinary.

Obama's hope and optimism are inspiring to the entire world. I realize now that I live in Europe how much we take for granted in the USA and indeed how engaged and poised the entire world is on our events. We have so many freedoms and opportunities unimaginable to most. I hope and pray that as an individual and as a part of larger groups I can fulfill the challenge to work hard, to consistently give to others, and to cling to the values to accomplish successful change. With Obama's presidency I am met in political conversations with a twinkle in the eye by Europeans, not a snide remark. That must mean great unity on our horizon.

I felt it was truly important to celebrate this milestone with Connor. Something about MLK's "I Have a Dream" that children will one day play together - means that need to cling closer to the future and the promise of what is to come. I know Connor will not remember this day, but I hope through pictures we will be able to talk about how this "audacity of hope" translated to success and what that means to us all. Tomorrow we are going to write a letter to President Obama and send it to the White House to close out our Inauguration Fun. Did you know you could do that? Yep, just address it to Pennsylvania Ave. But for today we had fun with a table poster we made and coloring pages of Obama....
Just because sometimes reading words sinks in more for me than hearing them - my favorite part of Obama's speech is below. Enjoy! Happy Inauguration - go embrace freedom!

My Favorite Excerpt from President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address (January 20, 2009) - with the photos we took from our TV posted on the right side!
"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate. Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny."

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