My heart is filled with gratitude tonight. I’m grateful for life in general, but also that we witnessed a peaceful transfer of power today in our land. I wanted to watch the inauguration on television but that didn’t work out so I listened to it on NPR and perhaps that was better. I was driving back to work from a morning meeting at the University at Buffalo. I wept a lot and they were all tears of joy and happiness. I thought often of my nephew Tom and how proud I was of him and how proud my Dad would have been. Dad’s been gone almost thirty-six years now. He checked out early at 46. He missed a lot.
I listened to the swearing in. I really loved Rick Warren’s benediction. I thought he did a great job. I loved the orchestral arrangement. It was a lovely piece and captured the grandeur for me. I loved Dr. Lowery’s final blessing. I was sorry to see that some people booed former President Bush. I thought that was poor taste.
President Obama’s speech was the best inaugural address I’ve ever heard. I think it will rank up there among the top. His delivery was impeccable and maybe it was because I listened to it on the car stereo but he seemed to thunder like a clap of lightning. It was magnificent. I’ve watched more television in the past few days than I have in a long time.
Tonight it seems like morning in America again. I’m glad I lived long enough to experience this day.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
Today I drove to Mt. Irenaeus for Mass. It’s part of what I usually do nearly every Sunday. On the way I placed a call to my nephew Tom who’s a member of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard in Anacostia, DC. Earlier this week my brother called to let me know that Tom would be marching on Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday accompanying our new President. I wanted to call Tom and let him know how proud I am of him and that he would be in my prayers and that I hoped he would be able to stay warm despite the bitter cold that grips the east coast of our nation. I left my message on his voice mail and continued to drive to the Mountain.
My trip this morning was a bit more exciting than normal because the road to Mt. Irenaeus was not completely plowed and my little PT Cruiser couldn’t quite make the final hill on the first try. I decided to back down the hill and wait for my friend Duane Karl who has a four-wheel drive pickup. After backing down the hill and getting my car parked on Weatherby Road I looked up and my guardian angel arrived in the person of a snow plow and sander for the Town of Wirt. The plow cleared the road and the sand provided the necessary traction for me to make the grade. Once I arrived I made my way to the chapel and Mass. After Mass I turned my phone on and discovered that I had a nice message from Tom. He told me that he had been practicing for the inauguration and that he’d be carrying the California flag at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday afternoon. My heart swelled with pride as I shared this news with the Friars and other guests. I can’t think of Tom nor his part in the upcoming inauguration without becoming filled with pride and choked up a bit with emotion.
I did get home in time to see Tom on HBO. As with most of this historic event I watched it on my laptop computer. I missed the first part of the show but saw the California flag at the end of the event and though I couldn’t see Tom I knew that he was up there. My daughter sat next to me and we both agreed that this was a special moment for us and especially for Tom.