And yet it was by confronting so clearly all that frightens and threatens us that Obama could issue his challenge. The entire nation, it seemed, had shown up this morning, wrapped against the cold, turning the Mall into a vast red sea.
What brought them to Washington, on flights that turned into airborne pep rallies, on buses that left at midnight, on foot from the four corners of a city on lockdown?
And so they could all say they were there, to stand together and glimpse a man in the very far distance accept the full weight of their hopes.
From his first words, Barack Obama let us know that even on a day so bright, he was not blinded.


You could almost pity the pundits as they groped for extravagant new ways to say what didn't need to be said in the first place. What are we willing to let him do with his office, with a power greater than the one he had when he began this day?
Jakes offered a warning as well as a blessing: "You cannot change what you will not confront," he said. That he was willing to sound so somber on his day of celebration tells us many things at once.
There were the Tuskegee Airmen and the mighty of Motown, the past Presidents (like a live-action Mount Rushmore) and the whole of America in miniature, as though the continent folded in on itself and poured 300 million people into one space, one time, to stop and listen and then start over together.


The problems are mighty and the solutions are not simple, and everywhere you turn there will be a critic waiting to attack every decision that you make.



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