25 January 2009

Inauguration of a New America

Tuesday at school, we watched President Obama's inauguration on CNN. My upper level French classes most often tend to be filled with the most liberal students in the school. Because we are in the Bible belt, that tends to be the entire population of 11 liberal high school students. Being who I am, I think that may be why they're attracted to my courses.

During the new president's address, we commented to each other, and when the address ended, we commented more. My favorite part, right now anyway, was "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." That call for peace, for the end to the anger in the world, it was the line that touched me.

As a teacher in a public school, the next portion of the speech that touched me was this passage: "What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task." Making this nation great requires hard work on the part of all Americans. For years I have heard criticisms of thrown at our country, our people and our schools--by Americans! The only way to improve our country is to get off "our" critical backside, take off the necktie or high heels, roll up your sleeves and get to work on making the United States a better country. I believe in public schools, so that's where I teach. I believe that public school teachers are great people, so I work hard to be a great teacher and to help my colleagues to the same. Thank you, Mr. President, for the reminder that each and every one of us is responsible for our success or failure in the world.

Although our previous president was not necessarily my favorite, I do not envy the hard tasks he faced during the last eight years. In all, I feel hopeful for this new administration. I'm grateful that this new president has a very different vision for the United States, and I look forward to the changes to come.

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