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Brian Charles: Hope fuels change

Washington Journal: the Inauguration

Posted: January 21, 2009 5:27 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Jumbotrons filled the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and provided clear view of the ceremony for more than a million inauguration-goers Tuesday morning.

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Editor's note: Fourteenth in an exclusive series as Signal Staff Writer Brian Charles traveled to Washington, D.C., to cover the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

There were long lines, there were poor directions, a mistake made during the oath of office, and it was brutally cold in Washington, D.C., at the 56th presidential inauguration Tuesday.

But there was more to the inauguration than those inconveniences, mishaps or speeches.

There was hope.

President Barack Obama: Just saying it feels different. He is no longer president-elect or a presidential hopeful - he is Mr. President. Obama's presidency, his speech and the collective mood of the million-plus people in attendance released a wave of energy that won't be contained.

That singular energy rippled through the National Mall and inundated the nation's capital in the days preceding the inauguration.

That energy conceived in Obama's campaign, born in his election victory and nurtured during his inaugural speech, will be let loose on the nation as those in attendance head back to their home cities.

That energy was unbridled hope.

Hope for the youth volunteer from Los Angeles who said Obama's call to public service is a watershed for organizations that are often under-staffed and under-funded.

A call to Americans to give their time and energy for the betterment of other citizens makes for a better America, according to Obama. And as that hope calls others to serve, our nation will improve.

Hope for the elderly couple who spent years in the civil rights movement and said the inauguration was the payoff for years of hard work. Now a generation of young people of all backgrounds can dream bigger dreams.

Hope for the young man who walked the National Mall after the inauguration thanking every older person he could find. "Thank you for your sacrifice. This day belongs to you," he said to one elderly man.

Hope for a marching band from Fergus Falls High School in Fergus Falls, Minn., that packed 120 kids on buses and traveled 25 hours to march in the inaugural parade. Those kids will one day tell their children and grandchildren that they were part of history.

Hope for the woman from Alabama who camped out in Union Station because she didn't have a hotel room, but she couldn't miss the historic moment.

Hope for a campaign organizer from Louisville, Ky. She knocked on hundred of doors "trying to turn Kentucky blue" and spread her hopes to others.

Hope for a woman from Okalahoma who no longer washes her clothes in a segregated laundromat.
Hope for a family from Valencia who said the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. may be fulfilled, but that now is the time to dream even bigger.

Obama's speech challenged us, dared us, to trade fear for hope. His presidency dares Americans in a way that John F. Kennedy dared us to give of ourselves to create a more prefect union.

Our country needs hope in the face of challenges, the likes of which we haven't seen in more than a generation. Hope will begin to turn our nation from a country full of cynics and nay-sayers to a country of doers and change agents.

The tide of hope washed over a crowd of more than one million people. It infected their souls.

America, hope is coming back to your town by plane, train, bus and car. Hope is ready to infect our nation.

Let it.

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