Tomorrow . . January 20th, 2009 . . will be an historic date for America as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.
I have some years on me and, like many others, I had never thought I would experience the inauguration of an African-American as president.
Today was Martin Luther King day and tonight my memories have turned back to the middle 1960's. I attended a radio-television news director's convention in Chicago. At one noon luncheon we were addressed first by former president Dwight David Eisenhower. I grew up in a Republican family and, while my father had supported Robert Taft for the Republican nomination in 1952, when Eisenhower won and then won the presidency . . he became a hero and somewhat of a demigod to him. But Ike was not a good public speaker. He read his speech to us and even that was not a stirring address. Later, Martin Luther King spoke. I was sitting in a front row, just a few feet away from the podium. King began in his slow, Southern way of speaking by apologizing because he had forgotten his notes back in his hotel room. And then he delivered a spellbinding speech with no hesitations, no ers and uhs (as Eisenhower's speech had contained), but just an amazing oratorial performance. I have no memory of what he said but I still remember how amazing a public speaker he was.
I have seen the "I have a dream" speech many times over the years and it still sends a chill up my spine. And I have seen the speech King gave the night before he was murdered in Memphis, where he said that he had seen the mountain top, that he may not get there himself but that he knew the mountain top would be reached.
Well, I ramble. Barack Obama is also a great orator though not as chillingly good as King, in my opinion.
But tomorrow, he will become the president of a nation that is facing great challenges and serious problems. Four or eight years may not be enough for him to solve all of the problems.
But he has a huge majority of the population favoring him and backing him. In a country beset by problems and the worst economy probably any of us have experienced, we wish him well.