2009-01-22 / Editorial

Another peaceful transfer of power


Students at the Lawn Avenue School on Tuesday were captivated as they watched the inauguration live. Photo by Jeff McDonough Students at the Lawn Avenue School on Tuesday were captivated as they watched the inauguration live. Photo by Jeff McDonough Tuesday was a historic day for this nation in many ways. Just about everyone in the country stopped what they were doing on Tuesday at noon to watch as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

Tears were shed.

Obama is the first African American elected to our country's highest office, finally placing a much needed exclamation point to the phrase that "all men are created equal." We have lived through the civil rights struggle. All of us, except for our youngest citizens, recognize the importance of this achievement. It's been a long time coming.

A non-white person is leading our nation. That's historic by any measure.

Technology made Tuesday an extraordinary day for other reasons. It was the first time that so many of us of us were connected to the same event at the same moment. No matter where we were on Tuesday we could watch the inauguration as it happened. Millions watched it on their televisions. We gathered around computers at work to watch the inauguration streaming live on the Internet. We could even see the inauguration live on our cell phones. Wow!

Even those Americans who crowded onto the National Mall in Washington, D.C. were able to see and hear what was happening as it happened because the giant monitors had been placed everywhere.

We all shared the same images. We all heard the same words. We were connected.

But the most remarkable achievement was something that most of us take for granted: the peaceful transfer of power. The leadership of our nation has again changed hands without violent protest. No shots were fired. There was no rebellion or resurrection or revolution. There was no coup or junta or uprising or guerella overthrow.

We held an election. The votes were counted and a new leader was chosen.

The peaceful transfer of power.

As simple as that sounds, the United States is one of the few countries in the world where a peaceful transfer of power happens on a regular basis. When I visited Ghana last fall, the people I met there were proud of their democracy. They were proud to share with you that their country was holding an election and planning for a peaceful transfer of power.

They should be proud. Ghana is one of the few countries in Africa that can claim a peaceful transfer of power in its leadership.

We should not lose sight of this continuing achievement for our country. The United States was established after a revolution. The union survived a bloody civil war. We've fought to preserve the one man, one vote principle.

No matter what, we must make sure that we continue to preserve the peaceful transfer of power in the years ahead.

— Jeff McDonough

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