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Friday, June 21, 2024

Swarming the National Mall en masse before sunrise, witnesses to history were not deterred by blistering winds and freezing temperatures.

With devotion in their eyes, they danced to stay warm, waiting in the cold to catch a glimpse of the 44th president taking the oath of office. People from all over the globe - citizens and foreigners alike - assembled in the nation's capital to bear witness to the ensuing spectacle.

Forty-three men have gone through this process before. Tuesday marked just another inauguration, right?

Wrong. Very wrong.

For so long, the image of America has been one of failed policies, not to mention a long line of presidents that gave comedians more material than they could shake a stick at. With our new president, the perception has changed to one of hope, faith and perseverance.

To the millions who traveled to the nation's capital, it wasn't just about being a part of history. The inauguration was about being a part of something much larger than just one person. Those who could not make it to Washington, D.C., gathered around televisions and radios throughout the world to hear Obama's first words as president of the United States - no matter what time the clock read.

His inaugural speech inspired and his calm demeanor awed. People the world over were given renewed faith in the power of democracy, but is this faith premature?

I truly hope not.

The energy of Obama supporters across the land was intense during his campaign, climaxing when he won the election. Now they can finally see the man they so strongly support get down to business. After years of support, such will be a sight that no words can truly express.

The world is changing rapidly. Not only does Obama have a responsibility to the American people; he also has a responsibility to the rest of the world. Whether he likes it or not, we are all counting on him to make a difference. To put it simply, the whole world expects greatness of Obama.

Criticism of politicians seems to come much more easily than praise, and after alleged torture, sold senate seats and wars galore, who can really blame the critics for being skeptical?

Obama's inauguration has brought pride to many Americans - pride that may have been lost or misplaced in the past few years - and it is up to him to make sure the pride is kept in the right place.

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Yes, we should be proud that Americans were able to put race aside and decide that change was what we needed to make our nation great. And yes, we should be proud that we made a difference. People all over the world are showing us how proud they are for doing that. However, blind pride will ruin us.

America has always been a proud nation, and perhaps the main downfall we have suffered from was the hubris of our leaders in the recent past. Hopefully, we can move on as a humbler nation. Perhaps our country can heal. Maybe this is exactly what we need.

Your country and the world are waiting with bated breath, Mr. President.

Naudia Jawad is a journalism graduate student. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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