January 19th, 2009
09:19 AM ET

Barack Obama's Essay for Martin Luther King Day

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President-elect Barack Obama
For The Washington Times

On the day of the first inauguration to take place in this city, a small band of citizens gathered to watch Thomas Jefferson assume office. Our young and fragile democracy had barely finished a long and contentious election that tested our founding ideals, and there were those who feared our union might not endure.

It was a perilous moment. But Jefferson announced that while we may differ in opinion, we all share the same principles. "Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind," he said, urging those assembled to begin anew the work of building a nation.

In the more than two centuries since, inaugurations have taken place during times of war and peace, depression and prosperity. Beneath the unfinished dome of the Capitol, a young lawyer from Illinois swore an oath to defend the Constitution a divided nation threatened to tear apart. In an era of unprecedented crisis, an optimistic New Yorker refused to allow us to succumb to fear. In a time of great change, a young man from Massachusetts convinced us to think anew with regard to serving our fellow man.


soundoff (One Response)
  1. Cindy

    Pretty good essay. And Obama is right that in our time of turmoil that we should remember that there is more that holds us together than tears us apart. Hopefully in the coming weeks and years congress as well as we people will remember that when trying to get this nation back on the right track!

    It's not going to be easy or quick and I hope that the right things are done with no partisan bickering or no outrage from certain groups because they don't get their way or mention.


    January 19, 2009 at 11:44 am |