Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Echoes of A Message from Post History: Reflections on the Inaugurations of JFK and Barack Obama

Gen. George Washington in Battle During the Revolutionary War

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. Obama Inauguration Speech, 1-20-09

Echoes of A Message from Post History: Reflections on the Inaugurations of JFK and Barack Obama

By Richard Power

JFK, RFK and MLK were vulnerable because they were out so far ahead of the national psyche, they were speaking to us from the future, and so their lives were snuffed out by those who clung to the past.

I do not "underestimate the Dark Side of the Force," but I tell you, this time, it will be different. Because here and now the future has arrived, and Obama is speaking from inside of it. And the multitude that he spoke before on this inauguration day pales in comparison to the multitude at his back.

At this profound moment in post-history, I just want you to listen to the echoes in these two powerful excerpts from two extraordinary speeches. I am grateful I have lived to hear them both. And while you are reading these words of power, listen to Aretha Franklin singing "My Country Tis of Thee ..." (click on the You Tube video below)

Words of Power from John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the USA:

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge--and more.
Kennedy Inauguration Speech, 1-20-60

Words of Power from Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the USA:

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
Obama Inauguration Speech, 1-20-09

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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