Commentary: Celebrating ideals on inauguration day

January 20, 2009 

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

By the time this day is over, the word "historic" will have been used so many times that it may seem to have temporarily lost its meaning.

But as the nation prepares for the inauguration of its 44th president, it is appropriate to acknowledge just what makes this day so significant.

Throughout the nation's history, Americans have struggled with issues of race. Those struggles have included a horrendous civil war and other violent episodes, as well as decades of protest and reform. Barack Obama's election did not signal the end of those struggles, but his inauguration does make it clear the extent to which they have been fruitful.

From election night on, countless interviews have captured the voices of Americans saying, "I never thought I'd see this day." It is a sentiment that runs deep and is shared widely, even among people who did not vote for Obama and who disagree with him on every issue.

For the truth is that his victory was not just a victory for Americans of African ancestry, or for people with dark skin or for Democrats.

Barack Obama's inauguration marks a victory for something broader, less tangible – and ultimately more important.

It is a victory for the power of the quintessential American ideals of freedom and equality.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.

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