Carol Platt Liebau: A Wonderful Speech, a Wonderful Day

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A Wonderful Speech, a Wonderful Day

Every Inauguration Day is a time of celebration. Of course, the day is a bittersweet one for Kerry supporters, who hoped to see a different man take the oath this morning.

But the fact is that what happened at noon eastern on the West front of the Capitol is worthy of celebration, whoever's the victor. As Americans, it's all too easy to forget that there are many societies where power is not transferred voluntarily -- it only happens with armed struggle, often at the point of a gun. Today, troops are marching in our Capitol, but not with menace -- with pride. And so whoever your candidate is, our great celebration of American democracy is both meaningful and moving.

The President's Inaugural Address was a masterpiece. A very bold and ringing affirmation of America's principles and its role in the world and human history, it openly and squarely set America on the side of freedom.

First, freedom abroad: "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

And also freedom at home: "By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous, and just, and equal." And we're going to "reform[] great institutions" to do it.

There was no one ringing phrase in the speech. But in a deeper sense, the entire speech was one ringing phrase, and it was this: "America believes that freedom is the God-given right of every living soul, and we are committed to defending and extending that freedom at home and across the world."


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