You never forget your first presidential inaugural.  My first-ever was almost a half-century ago and yet it is as fresh in my mind today as it was then.  The long-ago images of that inaugural remain crisp:  the parades, the promises, the pageantry, and the ever-present reminders in the nation's Capitol of our national patriotic past.
    It was at that inaugural that I made an observation that has stayed with me over the years.    I was riding in a taxi from what was then called Washington National Airport, heading into downtown Washington, DC, the day before the start of Inaugural Week.  My cab driver told me I picked a great time to come to DC.  It is, he pointed out, one of the few times that DC is full of happy people:  partying, playing and plotting in hopes of being able to lobby an entirely new roster of people, some of whom may be old friends from past Administrations.   
    Most of the rest of the time, Washington is a city of “No.”  In spite traveling to Washington with a brief case full of hope, most people walk out of the Capitol having been told there is no funding for your school, your playground, your community sports program for at risk kids, your water filtration project, or your planned cancer hospital.  It doesn’t make for a festive city mood.
    But during the inaugural of a new president, all—whether they voted for the new guy or not—hold special dreams for themselves, their community, and their family and they come to DC with a heart full of unquestioned hope for this country.  They see it as a fresh start, a new face with a vision of promise, and an air of possibilities.   
Having participated in any number of past inaugurals, I don’t go to them anymore—getting a bit long-in-the-tooth and weak in the legs for that kind of discomfort—but I will watch them endlessly on television.  Each time a new president is sworn into office, I look at the joy and happiness on the faces of those in front of the national Capitol during the swearing in ceremony.  I will switch channels to view others happily jumping up and down trying to keep warm watching the five-hour inaugural parade as it passes the new president in front of his new home.  As evening approaches, I will look joyfully at the “still can’t believe it” sparkle in the eyes of those dancing at the seemingly endless number of inaugural balls.
    There is something else I know that will happen to me as Barak Obama puts his hand on Abraham Lincoln’s bible to take the oath of office.  I will feel the chills on my arms change to goose bumps and the hair on my neck stiffen as the tears quietly cascade down my cheeks.  It will be a day when God does bless America.