President Barack Obama’s message of national unity and participation and his promise of a more transparent and accountable presidency clearly set the tone for the way the 44th president will be conducting business with a pledge to be honest with the American people. A refreshing message at a time when the country is facing immense challenges both at home and abroad as a direct result of veiled agendas and shady back room politics.
When he took office under sunny skies over the nation’s capital, our 44th president inherited not only a shattered economy and a world in peril, he also heads into the White House with pledges he has made on how to confront these challenges and others that would make the world a more just place in which to live.
As such began a day of unparalleled enthusiasm and emotional excitement, as history was made. The long journey, which began almost two years ago, entered its new phase with a unique sense of accomplishment and myriad potential.
I, along with a group of Armenian National Committee of America activists, "Armenia’s for Obama" campaigners and community members, began our day at 5 a.m. when we left the ANCA headquarters near Dupont Circle and began our trek–on foot–to Capitol Hill. The brutally cold weather did not deter us in any way to walk for two hours and wait in line for another three to enter our designated inauguration areas.
As we approached the Hill, we saw thousands upon thousands of other people who had made the journey to be a part of history and witness first-hand a changing of a guard in the traditional seamless manner, yet this time filled with immense hope, optimism and a renewed sense of national pride.
Looking back from the Hill and on Jumbotrons around the area one could only see people. A sea of people whose convergence began on the Hill and stretched along the Mall to the Washington monument, Throngs upon throngs of people carpeted the vast area and its adjacent streets and when Obama uttered the final words of his oath: "so help me God," it was as if the entire city exploded in unison. Coupled with the cannon salute, and the unstoppable cheers from the crowd, so began the new presidency.
We too look ahead with optimism and should foster Obama’s calls for unity, service and accountability in our everyday lives.
A poignant footnote: Once all was said and done, an African-American man who was standing in front of me throughout the inauguration turned around, put his arm around me and said, "It’s a new day." He then walked away. Another cheerful roar from the crowd directed our attention to the sky, where President George W. Bush and his family were leaving Washington aboard the presidential helicopter.