Neil

Inauguration Day

By: Neil Middleton
By: Neil Middleton

Today, we swear in our 44th President. Barack Obama grasps the reins of power as America’s first African American President. Regardless of your political affiliation or whether you voted for Barack Obama, John McCain or someone else, you can not overlook the historical significance of this day. And that’s what I want to concentrate on. It’s hard to believe that it was just 54 years ago (December 1, 1955) that Rosa Parks, a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. At that time, there were white lunch counters and “colored” lunch counters, segregated restrooms and schools. We were a nation united in our division. Most African Americans were not allowed to vote.

Twenty years ago today (January 20, 1989) I was standing in a grassy field watching the Inauguration of President George H.W. Bush.   Tony Turner and I were covering our first Inauguration for WYMT.  I was overcome by emotion as the transfer of power took place.  I still remember being impressed by the enormity of it all.  I was witnessing history take place, but it was so much more than that.  Four years ago I attended my second Inauguration.  The same feeling of awe came over me as President George W. Bush took the oath of office.

Today, we swear in our 44th President.  Barack Obama grasps the reins of power as America’s first African American President.  Regardless of your political affiliation or whether you voted for Barack Obama, John McCain or someone else, you can not overlook the historical significance of this day.  And that’s what I want to concentrate on.   It’s hard to believe that it was just 54 years ago (December 1, 1955) that Rosa Parks, a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger.  At that time, there were white lunch counters and “colored” lunch counters, segregated restrooms and schools.  We were a nation united in our division.   Most African Americans were not allowed to vote.  Their rights restricted by poll taxes, reading requirements and physical violence.  Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963.  Less than two years later (August 6, 1965) President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawing the practices used in the South to disenfranchise African American voters.  Still, until today, most African American boys and girls never dreamed they could really grow up to be President.  It was only a fairytale.  Today that changed as President Obama delivered his Inaugural Address.

     

Inauguration Day transcends politics.  This is not the day to criticize the new President; it is not the day to question his political views, appointments or philosophies.  That begins tomorrow and we’ll have plenty of time over the next four years to evaluate his performance.  But today, we are not Republicans, Democrats or Independents.  We are all Americans.  As I go back to the grassy field, I remember watching as the most powerful man in the world willingly handed over the reigns.  He freely relinquished all that power and control without shedding one drop of blood.  That is what this day means to me.  It’s what makes this country so special.

Barack Obama is now our President.  We should pray that God will give him wisdom and guidance.  This should be our prayer for all our elected officials.  Because the decisions they make today impact you and me, our children and grandchildren.

In closing, I want to thank all of our veterans, past and present.  Without their sacrifice, there is no freedom and days like today would only be a distant memory.  Thank You!

As always, thanks for making WYMT-TV your source for news and information.  We appreciate your trust.

God Bless America!

Neil Middleton
WYMT Mountain News
Appreciate Freedom – Thank a Vet!

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