Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shock and Awe

I was shocked at the history I saw happen in real time when I viewed the World Trade Center towers collapse on 9/11/2001. I hope I, and my descendents, never have to witness such a disaster again.

Thankfully, I am now in awe at the history unfolding in real time as Barack Obama becomes President of the United States -- the day after Martin Luther King Day and 200 years since Abraham Lincoln was born. Barack Obama is poised to be the most positive force for world change in recent memory, perhaps even in the history of our nation. I hope he proves to be an enduring role model that inspires others in the future. In his speeches and his books, he has already left an indelible mark on humankind.

Here are some of the most memorable excerpts from his recent speeches.

Jan. 8, 2008, after losing the New Hampshire primary to Sen. Hillary Clinton

"But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.
Yes we can.
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom through the darkest of nights. Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a president who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can."

July 24, 2008, before an estimated 200,000 people in Berlin during his European tour.

"Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust — not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here — what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?
Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
People of Berlin — people of the world — this is our moment. This is our time."

August 28, 2008, when accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for President on the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

"This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich.
We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong.
Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. Instead, it is that American spirit — that American promise — that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend. That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours — a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.
And it is that promise that 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream … "We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

Yes we can. This is our time. We cannot turn back. Go 'bama!

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