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January 19, 2009


"Free at last! They took your life -
They could not take your pride."
- U2, "Pride (In the Name of Love)"

Two years ago, I described (in this post) how two of my kids, then-aged 8 and 5, sat and watched a YouTube video of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August of 1963. I marveled at the beauty of the information age, and the way my children could become so easily familiar with a historic moment that I didn’t see in its entirety until I was in college.

(That’s the way it should be, really – in fact, the speech should be required viewing for all Americans. I’d embed it here – but I really like one website I found that features the text along with the video. So your civic duty for today is to click there and contemplate Dr King’s words – I’ll link to the site when we’re done.)

What I never imagined, however, was how my kids would see the hope and idealism of Dr King’s words come to fruition so quickly in their young lifetimes.

Over the next 48 hours, our children will witness what could perhaps be the most historic confluence of occasions this country has ever seen: the national holiday recognizing a man who gave his life for peace and equality, and the inauguration of a President who is the embodiment of that long-elusive dream.

Honestly, I have no idea what kind of leader President Obama will become. What’s indisputable, though, is this: as he stands at the podium delivering his inaugural address, after taking the oath of office on Lincoln’s Bible, with the memorial where Reverend King inspired millions gleaming across the National Mall in the distance, it will represent a watershed moment in the history of this country. Echoes of the past will meet the promise of the future head on, and a new era of hope and possibility – one that many of us never imagined we’d see - will have finally dawned.

So how do you explain all of these ramifications to grade school kids? In all likelihood, you can’t. I guess you just make sure they make note of the occasions, then explain the long, treacherous journey that brought us to this point in small doses as they grow old enough to appreciate them.

For those of us who are old enough to understand, though, the meaning of these two days is undeniable. If MLK were here to see it, one imagines that his heart would soar with pride.

And since we’re on the subject of pride, and Dr King – and since I seem to be featuring a certain band (who happened to play at this weekend's inauguration party) on this blog quite a bit lately - there’s one inevitable choice for today’s video selection: it’s my favorite version of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, recorded live for the 1988 film Rattle and Hum:

Afterwards, go watch Martin Luther King’s speech for yourself, and remember to appreciate the times we're living in today. We still have some work to do, but we're closer now than we've ever been before.


don 1/18/09, 10:10 PM  

Perhaps there will come a day when Prop 8 will be repealed so that ALL people can have pride in the name of love.

Bruce 1/19/09, 12:59 AM  

The amazing thing about the whole US election process watching from a far has been to see how Obama's support has just grown and grown. It's clear the people were looking for a change and I hope he can deliver that for you.

Juls 1/19/09, 9:00 AM  

Wonderful. I can't wait for my son to wake up so that I can share this with him.

Anonymous,  1/19/09, 11:26 AM  

Thanks for making this so available for us. It is just so powerful. Each year it means more to me, as I hope it will to the next generation.
As for the music: this is the first time our musical appreciations have crossed paths. Maybe there is hope.
CV Rat

Formulaic 1/19/09, 11:59 AM  

Thanks for the link!

Very nice post. Thought provoking.


Backofpack 1/19/09, 5:18 PM  

Someday they'll understand just what it all means. And, truth be told, I'm kind of glad that grade school kids don't really get it, because if they did, they'd know more about the world than childhood should allow.

justrun 1/19/09, 6:59 PM  

Well said. We are closer than ever before, and right now I'm reveling in the fact that the hope feels palpable, even if that may not last.

triguyjt 1/20/09, 9:41 AM  

excellent post.....

I am watching barack leave the podium area as I write this.
I am confident he will be a very good leader

Dave 1/21/09, 7:59 AM  

I am behind on the blog front...sorry. Yesterday I was proud of my country and for Obama. I did not vote for Obama and disagree with many of his policies. He is now our president and I will pray for him as I do all of our presidents. May God bless him and give him wisdom. It's always good to include U2 as well.

All the way from Texas, Dave

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