Saturday, January 17, 2009
Train I Ride
Today Barack Obama boarded the Amtrak train in Philly that will take him on Lincoln's 1861 route to Washington DC, starting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with stops in Wilmington, Delaware, and Baltimore, Maryland.
And so, today, begins this historic Presidential Inauguration.
2009 rang in with the drama of chaos and the flash of fireworks, but it won't truly begin for Americans until Tuesday, when Barack Hussein Obama is sworn in.
He has restored hope and enthusiasm to the American public in the face of epochal challenges and optimism is the most essential fuel for progress, even and maybe especially, when the engine is broken.
Forty years ago my generation had Woodstock, in a time when rock stars supplanted the influence of national leaders. When civil rights and an unjust war in Viet Nam were the issues, the rock and roll generation became our conscience and consciousness. Besides the message of unity, resistance, truth to power and questioning authority, rock had the flash and energy of youth, an outpouring of artistry and most importantly, it would prove, the power of the media. Barack Obama's constituency has the power of media undreamed of in the halcyon days of rock, media that politicians of power today only begin to understand and begin to understand only after Obama's constituency embraced it.
Washington DC will be filled to capacity with Americans eager to witness and participate in this monumental Inaugural, but those of us not on the ground there in the freezing weather can participate in a huge CNN online event on Facebook, with citizen reportage by text and picture message from smartphones, transmitted by the people who don't need popular music anymore to encourage and and articulate their shouts to the hilltop.
I haven't heard any songs of today that express this generation's fears hopes and objections but the train, long a powerful metaphor for progress and hope and a fixture in American popular song, pulls into Wilmington, as I write this, to pick up Joe Biden, the people cheering, the President-elect waving. And lines from a Paul Simon song, The Boy in the Bubble, run through my stammering brain.
these are the days of miracles and wonder
this is a long distance call
The distance wasn't so long, after all, was it? I am still alive. And so is the optimism I feared was drowning in cynicism and lost forever.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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