Ann Bednarski: Our nation united as one
January 26, 2013
What a magnificent tradition the Inauguration of a president has become. It is always a day that makes me happy to be an American and celebrate our country with its long-standing traditions. There are few celebrations that compare with a Republic’s swearing-in of our president to uphold the U.S. Constitution. It validates my favorite line in our National Anthem, “Gave proof through the night that our Flag was still there.”It also is a reminder that a government of, by, and for the People is three separate but equal branches that keep a checks and balance system alive to ensure We the People have a voice in our government. Each branch plays an important role in the swearing-in process. We the People joined the celebration by making the trip to our United States capital, Washington, D.C. There were over a million Americans there representing each state. The remainder could watch the festivities in their homes on television. America treasures this day and holds it sacred.As I looked at the huge crowd I wondered how many were there for the first time. I pondered how many were unemployed, on assistance or disabled. I considered the members of our armed forces, and how important they are to our security to make sure that “our Flag is still there.” As a Nevadan I was happy to know that several of our students attended this historic, traditional event. It was during all my musings about the day that the poem by Richard Blanco (Google Richard Blanco’s Inaugural Poem) became the one part of the Inauguration that I thought best summed up America, our beautiful country. His poem, “One, Today” took us on a trip to see the things each of us enjoy every day, sky, sun, wind, ground, and incorporated things we do freely. He used well-considered language like the “pencil-colored school bus” or “rushing to get into the revolving door to be on time for work”. Mr. Blanco gave us many insights into the “weather of his life.” I knew after he recited his poem from his heart that he was an immigrant who was born in Madrid after his parents left their native Cuba. He grew up with two parents and a brother. He incorporated into his poetry that his mother was a grocery store cashier; his father cut sugar cane “so my brother and I could have shoes.” Richard Blanco’s voice and delivery of his poem exuded his love and appreciation of being an American. He grew up knowing the struggles and efforts it takes to realize a goal and dream. He was humble, common, without pretense and, most of all, confident in himself. He could easily be the one who delivers the newspaper in the morning, or the physician that saves a dying child, or the man next door who offers a helping hand instead of a handout but respects and expects the dignity of privacy. After he presented his part in the Inauguration, it made the rest of the celebration even more interesting. He rejected nothing; rather, he accepted everything that makes this country great.From his use of colors in his descriptions of the “Oneness” of America, I found myself trying to attach colors to things that piqued my interest. The first daughters and first grandmother looked like beautiful bands of a rainbow. I loved the first lady’s red, flowing gown. The strength in the colors of military uniforms impressed me; I never thought about the power within that physical presence. The hats and coats of both spectators and dignitaries meshed together as a portrait I would call, “These are Americans being Americans.”When it was very late and the party was still going on, I lay in bed and thought about the long, wonderful day that had just transpired. The next day I went to the Internet to see the poem in print. I also heard a short interview with Richard Blanco. He is a civil engineer and English professor. He was described as the next Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets, and was chosen to do this honor at the Inauguration for reasons he did not know. He said he had three weeks to produce three samples for this event. I could not help but wonder if Mr. Blanco could address Congress with the way to solve our serious problems in a timely, efficient and bipartisan way. It would be most assuring to We the People.• Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.