On Tuesday, millions of people flocked to their televisions and computers to view Barack Obama’s inauguration. At the VCReporter, a few of us whispered briefly about Obama’s inspiring speech, but for the most part, we all sat silently in awe and admiration glued to the image of a man who represented hope for this country, when few can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
That moment made me painfully nostalgic for a time that occurred nearly eight years ago: friends and family frozen before their televisions as four planes veered off course and three struck buildings that represented our country’s financial institutions and security collapsed. I remember the emotion that welled up inside me and everyone else around. The fierce outrage that anyone would dare infringe upon our freedom was palpable. Sorrow deepened as the body count went up and fear slowly crept over this country, knowing what our enemies were capable of.
Both now and then, time stood still. As we watched and listened to Obama during his inauguration speech, emotions overwhelmed many of us. People called, colleagues talked. Unlike eight years ago, this moment that had made us quiet and attentive had encapsulated a drastically different sentiment: relief. Relief that new leadership is now upon us.
That moment has now passed and Obama has put a call out to all of us. Accountability and responsibility are the tone of this new era. Just as we were fired up to go after the terrorists, we now need to turn to ourselves and look at what we did to our own country. We have looked around and pointed fingers, but subprime loans were not being signed off by terrorists. Credit card debt wasn’t accumulated by hostage takers. The havoc in this country did not come about because of what outsiders did, but what we did to ourselves.
In Obama’s speech, he talked about taking the oath during good times … and bad.
“Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.”
There is a storm upon us. A storm we created and a storm we need to be prepared for. We need to be wise about how we spend our money. We need to put our money back into our communities and into our small businesses. It is time to get back to basics.
We need to take the fierce emotions we had eight years ago when terrorists dared to threaten our freedom and turn them into positive ideas to improve our current situations. New jobs, new ideas, new risks. We don’t need a tragedy to make us realize how important our country is to us and to the world.
Time to get up, stop looking for someone to blame, start looking at ways to move forward. Each of us must become part of the solution.