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I “attended” only one Inauguration, that of John F. Kennedy in 1961. I had been married only six months, and my husband and I took the train to D.C. It was a bitter cold and snowy day. Our train contained many members of Congress. Because of the snow, the train crawled and arrived very late.. All of us heard JFK’s stirring Inaugural Address on our portable radios, one train. We missed a historic moment. It was a frustrating moment for all of us, me especially, because I had worked for months in the Kennedy campaign, at campaign headquarters at 277 Park Avenue in Manhattan (since replaced by a high-rise building). I remember when he visited us. I was struck by how freckled he was and starstruck like everyone else.
Our reader Greg B. reflects on the importance of the Inaugural ceremony.
It strikes me that the upcoming inauguration can only be compared to both of Lincoln’s inaugurations. They will have been the only three in which there was serious concern about the life of the president. I think, very sadly, the many of us here and elsewhere who have expressed fear about the rise of fascism and intolerance in this nation over the past five years have been proven to be correct. What I feared in 1989 when I was a part of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism has come to fruition.
Making it even sadder, the only inauguration I experienced personally was the Clinton’s first in 1993. It was a celebration. The tents from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival were erected on the National Mall for a musical, culinary and cultural celebration. It featured musical acts from the range of American experience. I remember being in the tent that had McCoy Tyner, followed by Etta James, followed by Booker T and MGs (!!!), and concluded by the Very Rev. Al Green (!!!!!!). Front freaking row. Free. For the people.
I remember sobbing like a baby when watching tv as the crowd at Obama’s first inaugural celebrated in peace and joy and wishing I could have been there. And while I was just a baby, I remember later learning about JFK’s stirring speech at his inaugural. I also remember laughing at Sean whatever-his-name-is making a fool of himself and cheering my wife and her friends on at the Women’s March from a distance four years ago.
The Idiot has taught me how to hate, something I didn’t think would have been possible four years ago. But mostly, I hate what this craven Idiot and his enablers have done to our national rituals, rituals that confirm the legitmacy–not perfection–of our system of governing. And what they continue to do. They have robbed our Nation–and more importantly, our Nation’s historical and international standing–of an essential act of legitimacy. Murderers of people and our system of governing are still at large, both within and outside of our governing institutions. We must take it back. More importantly, we must all pledge to protect President Biden. Whether we supported his candidacy or not, we must do so to restore this nation’s legitimacy, for us, the world and posterity.