Inaugural Words

Did you hear or read Richard Blanco’s inaugural poem, “One Today“? I’ve been rereading it and marveling at its peaceful message of inclusivity; the balance of personal experience and sweeping view; the message of hope.

Blanco was the youngest Inaugural Poet, the first Latino, and the first openly gay one. (His prose essay about his homophobic grandmother is also worth a read.)

President Obama made history by being the first president to call for gay equality in an inaugural speech. He spoke of our common cause as Americans and the journey we must take together to face the challenges of our future and uphold the promise of our past. Say what you will about him; he has never lacked for stirring rhetoric, and his speech Monday was one of his best.

If the President stirred my heart, however, Blanco stirred my soul. After a divisive election—nay, a divisive four years—his words are a gentle but undeniable reminder of our unity as a country despite our differences. Both he and the President reminded us we must act together. The President got more specific about what we must do. Blanco painted a picture of the activities and landscapes that make us one, the common ground that will (one hopes) enable us to achieve the President’s vision.

It’s a daunting task, and we will need more than words to make it happen. But words have power, too, and I am trying to hold both the speech and the poem in my head and heart as I move forward with my writing, my work with the SEED Project, and as a parent trying to raise a citizen.

What did you take away from either piece, or from other parts of the Inauguration?