Soaring hopes in the wake of historic inauguration

Published 12:42 pm Monday, January 26, 2009

By By Jo Bonner
It is hard to imagine that anyone living in the United States - or in most regions of the world - does not know that history was made last Tuesday as Barack Obama became our nation’s first African American president when he was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.
On that frigid January day, an estimated two million people traveled from near and far - standing in incredibly long lines for hours - just to be able to participate in such a momentous occasion.
From my vantage point on the Inaugural platform, as far as I could see - all the way down the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial – people of all ages and from all walks of life gathered to experience the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another.
Many folks from southwest Alabama also made the journey - some traveling to Washington for the very first time. Many stopped by my office the day before the Inaugural festivities began in order to pick up their tickets for the swearing-in ceremony.
As people stood in long lines waiting to get inside the congressional office buildings to claim their coveted tickets, the excitement in the air was contagious.
Several folks, who were so excited to get their tickets, had pictures snapped as they were handed their tickets in an effort to document their entire experience.
As I have mentioned in this column before, each Member of the House of Representatives was only allocated 177 tickets, and with literally thousands of requests, I was simply unable to grant everyone’s request.
Many people, however, chose to travel to Washington even though they did not have tickets. Some had come with the hope of getting an unclaimed ticket while many others stood in the section of the National Mall that did not require a ticket.
But now that the parties and parades have come to an end, it’s time to get to work.
While I did not vote for President Obama, there was much in his inaugural address with which I agreed.
That said, there will also be many areas in his upcoming agenda with which I will probably disagree; however, I look forward to working with our new president whenever possible to advance our common goals.
Friends we can not - in fact, we must not - lose sight of the fact that we are innately blessed to call the greatest nation in the history of the world our home.
But, as our new president said in his Inaugural address, “…greatness is never given. It must be earned.”
And, I believe we have a shared interest in making certain that America’s best days are still in front of us.
Azalea Trail Maids Come to Washington
Mobile’s own Azalea Trail Maids also made history last week by being the only group from the state of Alabama to participate in President Obama’s Inaugural Parade.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee invited the Azalea Trail Maids to join other participants from across the country in the 56th Inaugural Parade, a parade that travels down Pennsylvania Avenue following the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
In honor of this remarkable achievement, I was pleased to host a luncheon for the young ladies in Washington before they headed home to Mobile.
Congressmen Artur Davis of Birmingham, Bobby Bright of Montgomery, and Parker Griffith of Huntsville took time out of their schedules to stop by and salute the accomplishments of these young ladies.
Four years ago, the Azalea Trail Maids represented the city of Mobile at President Bush’s inaugural parade.
The Azalea Trail Maids - comprised of 50 senior girls from Mobile County high schools - represent the city year round at hundreds of civic events.
They have also appeared at the Rose Bowl Parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Disney’s Easter Parade, among others.
Without a doubt, each one of these young ladies made all of us proud on this historic day.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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