I still can't believe that 1 year ago today, on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, I ACTUALLY witnessed history as Barack Hussein Obama II. was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.
The experience, in itself, wasn't amazing because of the fact that he became the FIRST African-American President, it was amazing because I pushed myself to physically be a part of that experience, the entire, Inauguration weekend; I refused to have sat back and watch the historic event on television and I swore to myself that I would be in the nation's capitol on that special day.
It all started with Obama's 'whistle-stop' tour in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, on January 17, 2009. My mother and I woke early, ate, and dressed in 3-4 layers of winter clothing, in order to brave the cold for five+ hours. We were ensconced between thousands of other Marylanders that ventured out to see and hear what then President-elect Obama had to say about his future initiatives for the White House.
My participation didn't just stop there... the next day, on January 18, 2009, I -again- piled on my snowsuit to attend the We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. The icy weather and monstrous crowds could not deter me from maneuvering through the people and wedging myself against a fence (which was as close as I could get to the stage- without having a ticket).
But the apex of that weekend was, of course, Inauguration Day... again, I did not have a ticket for the event, but because I knew multiple areas on the National Mall would be open to the public for viewing, I made a decision -the night before Inauguration- to be there! My family had spent that weekend at my uncle's home, and being away from my computer, I had to use my Blackberry to surf the Internet for any available Amtrak tickets. Low-and-behold I found a 1-way ticket from Baltimore to D.C. for $26.00, and a return-trip ticket from D.C. to Baltimore for $40.00- not bad for a last minute deal. Granted there was the much-hyped fear that all bus and train tickets for D.C. were either sold out or non-existent, I was blessed enough to find an empty seat! The only catch was that I had to be in D.C. at 12:00am (last train to D.C.), and the Inauguration wouldn't take place until much later that afternoon. Nonetheless, I packed my sleeping bag, heating packs, bottled water, food, snacks, etc. and trekked south. The train going to D.C. was PACKED, as everyone was en route to support the Inauguration!
On the way there I met a few, new friends, and upon arrival I slept in Union Station until about 4:00am... afterwards I headed towards the National Mall for the grand event; it was pitch-black outside and there was already an enormous crowd forming at the entry barricade. No one was allowed past the gate(s) until after 9:00am, but we all had a BLAST waiting outside. As everyone braved the elements, we sang songs -ballads, battle hymns, show tunes- and huddled together for nearly six and-a-half hours. In the area where my group was sectioned off, I didn't get past security until around 10:30am. All this happened just over a year ago -today- and I still find it hard to believe that I WAS THERE!!! For me, the overall experience was MIND-BLOWING!!!
I've learned that once you make up your mind to do something, you're either going to achieve it or let things get in the way. Moreover, in regards to accomplishments, Obama has urged Congress to address and reform the nations fledgling health care industry, Obama has presented a bill that would strategically align the needs of those Americans who do not/cannot afford proper health care, along with revising those policies that need overhaul such as Medicare/Medicaid. Obama said, "We’ll guarantee health care for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for anyone who wants it, and ensure that the quality of your health care does not depend on the color of your skin."
He openly takes the blame for not clearly explaining health care reform, as most Americans continue to question 'what's in it for me?' Obama vows to protect every American from the worst practices of the medical industry, claiming that he "didn't take on health care because it was good politics," rather he says, "I will not walk away from most Americans... if anyone else has a better plan, let me know!" In addition to health care reform, the First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama, will be spearheading a national movement to attack childhood obesity later this year.
In Obama's first State of the Union Address, he mentioned quite a few things that we should all take into consideration for 2010 going into 2011. He prides himself on not doing what's popular, but doing what's necessary. Obama aims to create tax breaks for companies that create new jobs in America, as well as institute a new tax credit for small businesses that hire new employees or raise wages, which would become a new stimulus for small businesses. In 2000, the US had an economic surplus of $200B, but in 2009, Obama faced a multi-trillion dollar deficit when he became President, he exclaims, "All this was before I walked through the door!" As a counter to the aforementioned, the President has mandated a bi-partisan fiscal commission by Republicans and Democrats, so that we don't pass on deficit to future generations.
In 2011 Obama would like to freeze government spending for three years, on entities that display poor business (read: unethical) practices, and he urges that politicians should do their work openly, by posting all earmark requests online so the American people can see how money is being spent. Obama says that "American elections should be decided by American people," and "not by lobbyists or foreign entities." Lastly, Obama stated, "America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity... prosecuting civil rights violations ...fight laws that keep gays and lesbians out of the military, equal pay loads for women... and continue to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild."
Here are a few of his other quotes:
"I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight... Despite our hardships, our union is strong..."
"One year later the worst of the storm has passed, but the devastation still remains..."
"I hated it (re: the bank bailout), it was about as popular as a root canal..."
"We do not let fear or division diminish our spirit..."
"How long should America put its future on hold?? China, Germany, India are rebuilding infrastructures..."
"I do not accept 2nd place for the United States of America!"
"We need to encourage American innovation... We need to invest in the skills and the education of our people. Reward success and turn around failing schools..."
"The best anti-poverty program is a world-class education! A high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job."
"No one should go broke because they chose to go to college..."
"Let's try common sense ...a novel concept ...its time to try something new!"
"We've gotta get it right!"
"Spirit of determination and optimism lives on..."
Either one, two, or 20 years from now, these are all great words to live by!