February 04, 2009

I meant to write this weeks ago, but couldn't seem to find the time (colds, work, school, the death of our tv, garden prep... you know, life).

There were a lot of particularly good bits in President Obama's inauguration speech. But this is the part that popped out for me:
... Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today...
Think of the stories of your family. The great-great-grandmother who took a train across a country. The grandfather who sold newspapers so his mother and sister could eat. The great-grandmother who raised chickens and rabbits in the backyard to feed a family of 9. The grandmother who worked in the machine shop during The War. The stories you don't know about the folks who came before them: the people who invented, who farmed, who timbered, who came West, who landed in New York knowing three words of English, who saved so the children could go to school and learn to read.

Think of the attitudes of the last eight years, or the last thirty. The general sense that We Deserve This, that Life Should Be Easy, that Life Will Be Worthless Without That Car/Sweater/TV.

And know that such attitudes are an insult to all the people who came before you who scrimped and saved and sacrificed so that you could have what you have.

To not sacrifice some of your own comfort and ease so that the generations that come after you can have a shot at having at least the same standard of life as you do is to say to that boy on the corner selling papers in 1931 that his efforts didn't really matter.
... But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
Let's roll up our sleeves, America. We've got work to do.


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