Monday, January 05, 2009

15 Days and Counting

Notes on paintings chosen for display at the Inaugural Luncheon in the Capitol.

View of the Yosemite Valley by Thomas Hill, Oil on canvas, 1865.
New-York Historical Society, Gift of Charles T. Harbeck

A few thoughts about the office of POTUS, looking back on the first three years of Barack Obama's administration. I wrote this 15 days before he was sworn in. I will continue to stand up for him, and work to get him re-elected.

The sense of the oldest version of the word “inauguration,” the Latin inaugurātus, is more than a just formal ceremony in which the person chosen for an office accepts its responsibilities and promises to fulfill its requirements. It was a blessing, augur. We humans try to coax the pantheon of the gods help move all the forces of the universe into alignment to create the most favorable circumstances possible for the office-holder to fulfill of his or her responsibilities.

Although I prefer a more secular interpretation of the word, there is something to that older, more sacred meaning. We humans, in our role as citizens, make a pact with the powers of the universe, that they will guide and protect Barack Obama to fight for the freedom of all people, to nurture all life, and to take care for humans in need—“to provide for the common good.” It is not one-sided. The humans have their role to play as well as the unseen powers. That is certainly what lead me to support Barack’s bid for the presidency, and I will be there, either in person or in spirit, to pledge my support as he sets out to make good on his promises.

The portrait, dated 1821, is of course Thomas Jefferson, by the 19th century portrait artist Thomas Sully. Bill Clinton displayed it at the Inaugural Luncheon in the Capitol for his 1st Inauguration.

I had imagined that Barack Obama would choose one of Lincoln. Instead he chose one that was painted the year that Lincoln was assassinated, View of the Yosemite Valley by Thomas Hill. The breath of Hill vision has room for many, many possibilities. I say that those possibilities still exist if we honor our part in the bargain.


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