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Inaugural gives way to the hard part

On a crisp, clear day three weeks ago, America and the world stopped to watch the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.

Close to 2 million people, the largest crowd ever to fill the National Mall, were on hand as the president-elect was sworn in as commander-in-chief. The occasion was festive and joyous. By all accounts people remained happy, treating each other with friendship, courtesy and respect.

The pre-inaugural "We Are One" entertainment program at the Lincoln Memorial was eclectically excellent, with performances that spanned the musical spectrum. These included contemporary soul by hip-hop artist Usher, country music by Garth Brooks and classic rock by Bruce Springsteen. In this difficult time for Detroit, it was good to see Stevie Wonder representing the Motown era. Jack Black, Denzel Washington, Kal Penn, and Tiger Woods were among the star-studded cast that read historical passages in between performances.

This uniquely American mosaic provided the backdrop for an awe-inspiring inauguration that included performances by Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, and a stirring invocation delivered by evangelical pastor Rick Warren.

The highlight was President Obama’s Inaugural address, which was thoughtful, somber and powerful, in keeping with the difficult and challenging road that lies ahead of our nation.

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If it were up to me, I would have been a part of the shivering, huddled and historic mass of humanity on the mall. That would have meant missing my first semester finals. More important, I was not able to get a ticket. I made up for this by watching the entire pre-inaugural over the weekend, and watching the actual inauguration at school. I was impressed at how many students gave up their open hours or skipped class to watch history in the making, and also by their general sense of optimism.

Some students had voted for the first time, and many of the rest of us were admittedly envious. By e-mail, Facebook and telephone, the inauguration resonated internationally, with people everywhere seeing something of themselves in the president. The event touched many lives. Inspired partly by the inauguration, a former KKK member who had been involved in badly beating up a young African-American divinity student and civil rights campaigner called U.S. John Lewis, traveled to Washington 48 years later to personally apologize to the this man who’s now a member of Congress.

There is much that needs to be done — wounds that need healing, bills that need paying and fences that need mending. It will not be easy.

Obama has promised to do the nation’s business in a bipartisan way. All we can be sure of is that he will make some mistakes, that he will not please everyone with decisions that need to be made and that we will have to temper our hopes for tomorrow with the harsh realities of today.

Whatever our political leanings, we can all only wish him success in the tasks ahead, especially in restoring our economy. As stated so clearly by Republican House Minority Leader, U.S. Rep. John Boehner, "We need him to succeed."

Krishen Somers is a junior at Mayo High School. To respond to an opinion column, send an e-mail to life@postbulletin.com.

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