Meridian Star

January 22, 2013

Inauguration speech draws local praise

By Terri Ferguson Smith / tsmith@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     With all the ceremony befitting the swearing in of a nation's leader, President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Monday for his second term in office.

    Locally, many people took time to watch the televised ceremony that took place the nation's capital.

    Lisa Brookins Mercer said she missed part of it because she was attending a Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday breakfast, but when she watched it later, she was moved by the president's remarks and the appearances of others during the ceremony.

    "I had my grandson sitting in my lap and he is two," Mercer said. "For me, that's just momentous — the representation of all of America, James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce,  Myrlie Evers, who is almost our last link to the civil rights movement that's living."

    She hopes it will make a lasting impression on her grandson, she said.

    "Just to see my grandson watching it, through song and words, the seeds of what America should really be like," Mercer said.

    Whether or not a person agrees with the president's policies, she said, it was still an historical moment.

    "I'm not real happy with the government but I still live in the most free country in the world and I'm still proud to be an American. We are all American and we all must act that way."

    Bill Scaggs watched some of the coverage and said he thought the invocation delivered by Myrlie Evers Williams was wonderful and the president's speech was memorable.

    "I thought the president's address was terrific and maybe as good a speech as I've ever heard him make. I'd give it an A-plus," Scaggs said. "It was forward looking, value-based and it addressed the promise of America very well. We're a lot better at worrying about the problems of this country than we are at articulating the promise. We use problems to divide the political process and we fail to use the promise to unite the people. I thought he (Obama) leaned in the direction of uniting."

    Larry Caldwell said the inauguration was different because, with it being Obama's second term, there was no ceremonial helicopter flight of a former president leaving the White House.

    "To me it was more of a history-making event because it was his second term. He had more of a compelling speech to people this time," Caldwell said.

    Brandy Steele, who said she didn't see the first inauguration four years ago, watched the ceremony on Monday and enjoyed it.

    "I want to say I'll remember it all. I think it was on point," Steele said.

    Dr. Kathy Baxter, a retired political science professor, said one of the president's quotes was particularly memorable. During the latter part of his address, he said, "Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time."

    Baxter said that is what the American public is saying to Republicans and Democrats, that they want both chambers of Congress to work together to solve the country's problems. Americans particularly want both chambers of Congress to work together to pass a budget, she said.

    Baxter also said there were several issues she believes Obama will work on during his second term, based on his remarks Monday.

    "I think looking forward to the future, there was an indication that he plans to offer legislation in the areas of equal opportunity, meaning equal pay for women; a dealing with the illegal alien question," Baxter said, "and dealing with equal treatment of homosexuals under law."

    She said she is hopeful hat Democrats and Republicans will remember that they have to compromise to get work done — and in a compromise no one gets     everything that they want.

    "I'm optimistic that we will move beyond the point where we have been, which is deadlock," Baxter said. "With deadlock you get nothing."