Tuesday’s inauguration about progress

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fittingly, it may be the words of a former U.S. President that best sum up the historic transcendence of our future commander in chief.

“The glory of this land has been its capacity for transcending the moral evils of our past,” Ronald Reagan said. “For example, the long struggle of minority citizens for equal rights, once a source of disunity and civil war, is now a point of pride for all Americans.

“We must never go back. There is no room for racism, anti-Semitism, or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country.”

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You have to think that the former actor and well-respected world leader would have been proud of the message Americans sent in November, one that will be culminated Tuesday when Barack Obama becomes our first black president.

The accomplishment transcends race, transcends politics, transcends parties.

Even those who disagree with Obama’s philosophies and political views have to realize what this means for our country. There will be plenty of time to dissect how effective the president will be. Now is the time to sit back and appreciate this shift in history.

When our nation witnesses the 56th inauguration, we will be part of a moment that will instill hope, restore faith and help wipe away years of racism and hate.

We still have a long ways to go before equal rights are truly achieved but Tuesday’s swearing in will be a monumental step in that direction.

Men and women who sought equality and freedom founded America. The journey has been long and hard — and is far from over — but it shows our nation is on the right path.

When Obama becomes the nation’s 44th President of the United States, it will serve as the most tangible proof of civil rights progress since integration. America — always known as a melting pot of ethnic, racial, religious and financial backgrounds — can truly call itself the land of opportunity, for all people not just those of a particular demographic group.

Fittingly, the inauguration will be one day after the nation recognizes the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man without whom none of this would be possible.

I started with a quote. It seems appropriate to end with one from King.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

On Tuesday, that dream will become more of a reality than it has ever been in America’s 233 years as a nation.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.