On Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, when the dorms opened and many students were moving back in for the start of the semester, several members of the TCNJ College Democrats traveled to Washington D.C. to be a part of the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. The simplest way to describe the experience is to say you needed to be there to understand, but I’ll do my best.
This was actually my first time in D.C. and I could not have picked a more exciting time to be there or better people to have been there with. We drove down on Sunday and planned to wake up early to catch the metro into D.C. Standing on the National Mall watching the sun slowly rise behind the Capitol Building was awe inspiring to say the least.
The estimates were supposed to be that this Inauguration was near half the size of 2008, but being there, surrounded by over 800,000 people did not feel small at all. One must remember that 800,000 to 1,000,000 people is still a huge number of people to be all gathered together in one place.
From our spot we had to watch the inauguration on a Jumbotron since the people at the capitol building were mere specks on the horizon. Even though we were so far away, the energy of the place was contagious. As President Obama was sworn in for the second time, the combined cheers of over 800,000 people on the National Mall with hundreds of thousands of American flags waving around was one of the most incredibly patriotic experiences of my life. Being in such a crowd with emotions running high made the Inaugural speech even more intense, and while there can be a legitimate criticism that the speech may have been too policy oriented, I felt rather motivated during and afterwards.
One line in particular struck me and has continued to influence me: “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.” Truer words are rarely spoken, and I feel that as a nation we do need to seize this moment. We are at the cusp of a new American era and the legacy of this era is dependent on us working together. Inaction is just as much of a choice as action and this new era needs to be one of action, of working together, of bettering our nation. We often say that America is the greatest nation on earth, but this is only true if we make it true. We must not sit back or idle, for previous Americans knew that claiming you are the best meant nothing without proving it, that words are useless without action.
Now is not the time for excuses, excuses accomplish nothing, but the time for action. Our nation’s greatest heroes’ did not make excuses for injustice or shortcomings: they acted, they fought, they saw America’s potential and through blood, sweat, and determination they pushed us towards that potential. Now is our time to do the same, to see our potential, to shoulder the weight of the American dream, to continue the push forward for future Americans and I, for one, am proud to be a part of it.