A Postcard from the Inaugural

by Steven Biel

January 20, 2009

What a day. The crowd on the National Mall was overwhelming. The hope and joy was palpable in the air. It was a day I’ll never forget.

And President Obama (how great it feels to type those words!) rose to the moment and delivered an address that in my opinion struck all the right notes (though I think he flubbed the first few words of the oath of office, a charming human moment).

He spoke in direct, sober terms about the challenges we face, but also tapped into the greatness of America to offer an inspiring vision for the potential future before us. And, most importantly in my view, he committed to tackle global warming head on.

I applauded in agreement when he said, "each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet."

I cheered out loud when he made this pledge: "With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet."

And I was in full-on, fist-pumping joy when he let loose with this:

But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids(!) and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science (!!) to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories(!1!!!11!!). And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

Greenpeace was out in force today as well, handing out stickers and postcards issuing the "Rushmore Challenge"–that the President who solves global warming will get his face on Mt. Rushmore. I saw more than a few people sporting their Greenpeace-Rushmore stickers with pride. Here’s the image on the postcard:

Obama postcard

Of course today was historic for many reasons, but I’m more hopeful than ever that today will be remembered as the day that America began to finally, forcefully, tackle global warming and lead the world to a safer climate future.

I’ll leave you with these shots of President Bush’s helicopter fading into the distance…

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