It was January 20, 1977 – 40 years ago today. I was in the 8th grade at Covington (TN) Elementary School, a small county seat town in west Tennessee. We were in a brand new school – literally, it was one of our very first days in the new school. We were scheduled to start in the new building upon our return from Christmas break. And we did, though the return was delayed a number of days due to snow and ice (two whole weeks as I recall). So on this day, you could still smell fresh paint and new carpet (yes, there is a new carpet smell!). And there was the open theater that was the visual centerpiece when you entered the building – fully equipped with a state of the art overhead projector and large projection screen. And it was inauguration day for the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter.
I remember the excitement as the 8th grade class gathered together to watch the inauguration live on the big screen. Honestly, the excitement could have come from getting to watch something on a screen larger than I had ever seen – at least that was not in a theater or at the drive-in. Or the excitement could have come from the fact that we were missing Mrs. Craig’s Social Studies class. Of course, that goes to show just how good a student I was. We were not missing her class – this was her class!
Now that might sound simple. But as I ponder that day (as I just have with you) I can’t help but think of a day when the office of the president of the United States was held in high esteem, respected and honored like no other vocation on earth. A day when the inauguration was a national event – an event orchestrated to celebrate the passing of the torch from one administration to another – what I have heard time and again over the past few days, the peaceful transition of power in the most powerful nation in the world. It is a message to the rest of the world of one of our founding principles of government, a government by the people and for the people.
That day was then, and today should be, the single greatest civic event for you and your children, me and my children, to view and to ponder. The transition of power from the 44th president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, to the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The end of one era, the beginning of another. And we need to pray that this president will uphold his position honorably and will fulfill his duty as a citizen of the United States faithfully. And what is that duty?
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Sorry Mrs. Craig – I really did memorize it in your class but needed a little help from Google today! It is not a perfect document, but has served us well as a nation, as a republic, when followed according to its intent. If you are a citizen of this great yet imperfect land then I encourage you to read and remember – maybe even memorize again – these words. And then pray for your new president and his administration (if you need help in doing that, see here). and ask yourself, “How can I be a part of helping this nation be what our forefathers foresaw?”
Just pondering today – and I will be watching at 10am CST. I was inspired to do so, and to write this, by a young man who wrote on Facebook that he didn’t want to go to work today because he would not be able to watch. He had seen the previous four inaugurations. Oh that this would once again become a day to be cherished. Because it is on this day that Donald J. Trump will put is hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States. And if you are a Christian today, pray that he will also seek to uphold the words of the book that his hand will be on.
And it just hit me – 40 years ago! I am getting old…