At history’s doors, Obama holds hope of American renewal

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Standing at the threshold of history as the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama invited his nation to a “celebration of American renewal” for his inauguration Tuesday.

Support TwoCircles

“Welcome to this celebration of American renewal,” he told thousands of people packing the National Mall Sunday afternoon as a star-studded concert at the Lincoln Memorial marked the official opening of inauguration revelry.

“In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now,” said Obama addressing a roaring crowd after 90 minutes of high-energy acts such as U2, Mary J. Blige, Usher and Beyonce.

“Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes,” he said stressing the depth of the challenges that he faces, including the recession and the unfinished wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future – about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what’s best about this country to our children and their children,” said Obama.

But “Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on.”

“There is no doubt that our road will be long, that our climb will be steep,” said the man who has made it to the nation’s highest office on a message of hope and change.

“But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard.”

Bruce Springsteen opened the “We are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial with his song “The Rising,” singing, “How far I’ve gone/How high I’ve climbed/On my back’s a 60 pound stone/On my shoulder a half mile line.”

Along the National Mall, between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, people watched the concert on massive screens and sang along with “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land.”

During U2’s performance of “Pride (In the Name of Love),” a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., frontman Bono referenced the civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech, saying that it was also, “an Irish dream, a European dream, and African dream, an Israeli dream, and a Palestinian dream.”

Obama mentioned the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and also referred to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which took place in the same spot where he was standing.

“Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character’s content,” he said.