There is palpable hope in this country. In spite of economic fears and endless bleak reports of our financial system teetering on the brink of some unknown abyss. Our hope has to do with an idea -- that we can turn the page of this country's history and redefine who we've become. That just as a teenager matures to adulthood, our country can enter an age of responsibility and reasonableness. That we just might have the right leader for this new era -- one who can lead our country toward the fulfillment of the high-minded ideals our country was founded on, beginning with the premise that all people are created equal. In a scene repeated throughout the land on Inauguration Day, I watched the events with my coworkers, struck by the powerful merging of symbol and substance. A melting pot quartet of world-class musicians. A joyous African-American voice authentically rendering "My Country 'Tis of Thee" like we've never heard it. An uplifting speech appealing to our best instincts and our desire to write a memorable chapter of history in a difficult time. A poetic benediction full of common wisdom and humor. And hope. One of my coworkers cried during the whole thing. A normally undemonstrative sort, she opened up and told us why this event meant so much to her. It meant that she no longer would be judged by her Asian looks, name and speaking style. That people could no longer assume that she was different or lesser. I grew up watching news reports of kids getting soaked by fire hoses because of the color of their skin. I found myself on Inauguration Day half disbelieving what I was watching. A lot of people of color walked a little taller on that day and ever since. It's about time. Last summer, Congress made an official apology to black Americans for our history of slavery and discrimination. Some thought the apology hollow, because it doesn't change the past. On Jan. 20, 2009, this nation went one better. We promised the future to our brothers and sisters of color. My daughter-in-law and son had the foresight and thoughtfulness to give my wife and me an Inauguration Day grandson. Our hope is that the cute little guy is one of the first citizens of a newly enlightened nation, where people are allowed to be who they are, and inspired to be their best.