Students celebrate inauguration

By on January 20, 2009

Students in Red Barn watch inaugurationBy Billy S. Garland

Today the world seemed to stand still for a moment, in silent, and at times, jubilant respect for the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. For most, the moment will be remembered always.
For the first time, the ceremonies were shown in the planetarium on the University of Louisville campus. The auditorium was filled to capacity with students and faculty.
“I thought it was important that we show it here,” planetarium director Rachel Connolly said of the showing. “There is such a sense of excitement and renewal. It just means so much.”
The sense of anticipation and excitement that gripped the crowd was tangible, as whispered voices all around heralded the occasion with hopeful praise of the soon to be announced president-elect. Senior history major Britt Singer could not contain his excitement as the proceedings began.
“Twenty-three minutes. Only 23 more minutes left,” Singer exclaimed enthusiastically. “I began my countdown last night at midnight.”
Those minutes seemed to drag by slowly as the procession of politicians filed onto the platform and were announced one by one. Suddenly the tightly filled room erupted into applause as Obama was announced. The small gathering of students hundreds of miles away from the event rejoiced together as if they were only feet from the stage, continuing an emotional tenor that translated across racial divides, age differences, backgrounds and distance.
Following tradition, an opening prayer was made before the oaths were to be taken. Minister Rick Warren delivered the convocation, skillfully referencing many major religions in his prayer, granting yet another illustration of the sense of unity fostered on this day. Warren ended the prayer by reciting the Christian standard “Lord’s Prayer.” Appropriately the words of the prayer rang out, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” a prayerful sentiment reverberating strongly with the hopes and fears of a nation together as one.
When the time came for Obama to take his oath of office, a couple near the oversized screens sat, with clasped hands, in hopeful rapture as this peaceful transfer of power quietly embodied that immortal dream voiced so long ago from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. After a surprising slip during the reciting of the oath, Obama quickly assumed a dignified air.
“I didn’t feel that the stumble hurt his presentation at all,” said freshman psychology major Brent Tinnell of the slip-up. “I thought it made him seem more human and believable. His speech was really good and that made up for it.”
The memory of the brief stammer seemed to quickly dissipate as Obama wove quotes from Scripture as well as past American icons into a speech full of his iconic rhetoric. Excited students sat on the edge of their cushioned seats as the new president addressed the nation’s behavior in recent years, referencing the apostle Paul, “It is time that we set aside our childish ways.”
Later Obama addressed the Muslim world saying, “Remember, people will judge you based on what you can build up, not what you can destroy.”
As the humbly moving speech came to a close, Obama left the nation with a call to action, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” A daunting task to say the least, but with the final thank-you given and the speech concluded, the resulting applause drowned out the canon fire, and a new world leader took power.

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