The last time Inauguration Day was a day where tears never stopped flowing, goosebumps never let up and a lump rarely left my throat, was 12 years ago when history was made as Barack Obama was sworn in as President.
But unlike January 2009, democracy itself was not hanging in the balance.
Yesterday on the cold wintery step of the Capital with the sun shining brightly we witnessed American democracy being saved. We have our country back, pulled from the precipice it was teetering on only 2 short weeks ago. Now in the very structure that had so recently been invaded and desecrated by an insurrection encouraged by our president, we were eyewitness to a gathering of men and women who confirmed with words, music, and profound truths that our country will survive. Pulled from the brink, we have been restored.
Sometimes it is only when you have been fed a good meal that you realize how very hungry you are.
We have been starving.
Morally and spiritually malnourished as a nation, we have been craving decency, humanity, and empathy. Yesterday we were fed a generous portion, with the promise of being adequately nourished for the next 4 years. The very things that were deprived of these past 4 years were served up in abundance in every speech and every performance.
For 4 years we have been consistently fed a diet of empty calories, and empty lies, bloating us, weighing us down, and offering no substance. At Joe Biden’s Inauguration, we were offered powerful, thoughtful, and inspiring words. Words that offered a blueprint for healing. And for all the work that lies ahead. Graceful words matter but there is substance to back these words up. We will be led by a president and a team who have lived their lives informed by and demonstrated compassion and empathy
I suddenly feel 280 pounds lighter.
It was a day of history and Herstory, that will be remembered and talked about for years.
Not least of which we witnessed the first woman, first Black person, and first person of South Asian descent to serve as our nation’s vice president. A day of diversity where the disenfranchised and the dead were recognized.
It was all capped by the extraordinary reading from a 22-year-old poet laureate, her skin radiant in the sun, her glowing presence as powerful as the words. “If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Amanda Gorman was the bright, searing light of this inauguration.
Like JFK, Joe Biden called on us to be engaged, declaring that we lead not by our power but the power of our example. Reminding us of why we were once proud to be Americans not the shamed and apologetic stance we have endured on the world stage for 4 years.
The waiting is over.
Yesterday was the day that Donald Trump became our former president. That era is over. There is a new era. Despite the unprecedented challenges, it is one of optimism.
Truth won yesterday. Science won. Humanity won. Democracy has prevailed.
We can be winners again. Far from being tired of that, I crave it.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2021.