Inspiring is not usually a word I associate with President Obama’s speeches. In fact, the status quo of his rhetorical regurgitation typically leaves me feeling frustrated and disillusioned.
But yesterday was different.
Sometimes, there are moments where being a Republican or a Democrat takes a back seat to being an American. In these moments, the American people need the leadership of the President of the United States, instead of a politician. Barack Obama filled that role, and that accomplishment was as much a testament to the work and message of Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., then anything else.
There were hints of an agenda, subtleties he could have left unsaid. With this president, partisan politics looms over everything. But the overarching message was clear. He talked to us, instead of at us, sharing the story of our collective past. He dressed the part, looking like the leader of a free nation, instead of trying to “relate to the people” in his casual, typical rolled-up-sleeved look of a professor.
What the nation, and world, saw at the March on Washington was the United States President who, for better or worse has fulfilled, in part, the dream that altered the course of our great country. And that is something to be proud of, to be grateful for, to remind our children of, and to continue to strive towards.
Below are a few memorable quotes worth sharing. You can read the entire speech here.
It’s important to be critical of our leaders, to hold them accountable, and push them to create common-sense policies that we deserve; but it’s just as important to take step back, give credit where credit is due, and remember the things that make America the greatest nation on Earth.
Let’s hope that this message - a message that rings true to our most treasured values - can resonate past today and bring our leaders together to create a better tomorrow.
"On the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted, as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another, and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth."
To dismiss the magnitude of this progress -- to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed -- that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years."
"This idea -- that one’s liberty is linked to one’s livelihood; that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security -- this idea was not new. Lincoln himself understood the Declaration of Independence in such terms -- as a promise that in due time, “the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”
That’s where courage comes from -- when we turn not from each other, or on each other, but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That’s where courage comes from.
“…for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is. They dared to dream differently, to imagine something better.”
“…when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station, can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed, as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”