My Chair Rocks
I stayed up late. I waited for the Biden inauguration. I wanted to watch Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take their oaths as President and Vice President, respectively of the United States. I needed to. I longed for confirmation that the four-year embarrassment was finally over.
For a while there, I thought I would never again see good old-fashioned ceremony, or hear sane and selfless messages that could inspire, evoke tears of joy and stir up emotions of hope and love, not anger. I ached to hear words that spoke to the soul. I thought that nothing could ever again stir me to rise to my feet and be carried away by the drama of the moment.
I had so looked forward to Inauguration Day. And what a day it was. American filmmaker Ken Burns, commented: “We were cleansed today”. Someone else described it as “the day America found its soul”.
Biden’s speech was all heart. The 46th U.S. President spoke with a sincerity so painfully missed in recent years. He talked about unity and reconciliation.
Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem. I have never heard it sung with such passionate fervor. Jennifer Lopez was there. The awesome Latina performer, stunning in silvery white, was emotional with “This Land is Your Land”.
But the undisputed highlight was the appearance of Youth Poet Laureate, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman. What can I say? Her words poured a soothing balm on the wounds of a fractured nation and shone a bright light into the darkest corners of every heart.
“We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew.
that even as we hurt, we hoped,
that even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat,
But because we will never again sow division.”
So much wisdom in her exquisitely crafted words!
Many commented that it sounded like a song. I felt it was more like a prayer.
The historic event culminated in Celebrating America a star-studded extravaganza of music and messages beamed on TV and the Internet. The presentation took the place of the usual inaugural ball. It was a most meaningful and welcome change.
And when it was over, the sky over the White House exploded in a magnificent display of fireworks.
What a night! It took us out from that “never ending shade” and gave us our first glimpse of a new and bright morning. Hope at last.
Okay, I am gushing. Why am I so affected, you ask? It’s a long story.
Suffice to say that America is my second home.
But for those who would chide me and ask why I should care, that I don’t even live there anymore, let me say that I grew up in an era where America was our one and only super hero. Admittedly a lot has happened since. But let’s face it; whatever happens in that “land of the free,” affects us and the rest of the world. Someone once described it saying, “When America sneezes we all catch a cold”.
What a thrill it was to listen to patriotic music, and to hear the sound of flags flapping proudly in the brisk wind of a sunny but cold winter day, and although from thousands of miles away, to breathe in the excitement of that historical moment.
Guests arrived early, all masked of course. I wonder how the CNN annotator could identify them with only the upper part of their faces showing. There was an air of expectation and perhaps a bit of trepidation. What if?
After all, only two weeks earlier this same building was under siege.
The images on TV were hard to believe. There was a mob outside the Capitol, climbing its walls, seething with anger. And they broke in, hell bent and determined to create chaos. Men and women, some with war paint on their faces, raised their fists, and shouted invectives, spewing their shameless venom as they desecrated the hallowed chambers of the Capitol. They were out for the blood of senators and congressmen who had gathered to count the electoral votes and officially declare Joe Biden the next president of the U.S.A.
It was my first time in the nation’s capital. I was on a guided tour
As I watched, horrified, my thoughts momentarily wandered off. And I remembered that many moons ago, I had walked into that huge temple of democracy as a visitor. It was my first time in the nation’s capital. I was on a guided tour.
The Capitol is built on a plateau. It is regal, beautiful, and full of history. It is the symbol of the American people and houses the legislative branch of their government. It contains arts and artifacts representing the foundation of the United States of America.
I recall gazing in awe at the imposing Capitol Building with its distinctive dome, the seat of democracy. There was a reverent hush the minute we entered. The queue was long but orderly; Americans and foreigners all lining up to imbibe a piece of history. No one pushed or shoved.
I felt like a child on my first field trip, a bit overwhelmed. I learned about the founding fathers, the sanctity of the Constitution, and about the cost of freedom. I was thrilled just being there. I remember stepping into the Senate Chambers. We were not allowed to wander off beyond the red velvet ropes. And no one dared. We all knew we were treading on hallowed ground.
Fast forward to January 6, 2021. And we witness this incredibly brazen act of violence! What has happened to us?
There were five fatalities in that vicious attack. But the malevolent intent of the trespassers was thwarted, thank God. The insurrection was quelled. And the lawmakers convened a few hours later, to officially proclaim the newly elected president and vice president of the United States. Democracy won!
And on January 20, we joyfully watched the inauguration. It was like a cool late night shower had poured over the parched earth. It was like seeing the dawn break after a long and stormy night.
The speeches lifted downcast spirits around the world. We heard no words of anger or hate; only calls for calm, for unity. There were no recriminations and no recitation of faults; only a gentle but firm reminder to set politics aside, to work together for the common good, to extend hands and open hearts to hasten the healing of a nation.
There was no self-promotion. No self-aggrandizement. It was not about Biden or Harris; it was all about America. And it was about time! I thought I heard the world heave a sigh of relief!
And today with hearts filled with renewed hope, whoever we are, wherever we may live in this troubled world, we pause to ponder the closing lines of Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”:
“We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country,
Our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
Battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid,
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
I want to say “Amen”!