The Inaugural Address

 

He had yet to be sworn in as president but he already felt ‘presidential’.  He paused, while cleaning his teeth and quoted Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address, “Let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for …”  “Honey?”  His wife, the first lady to be, called from the adjoining bedroom room, “Can you do that in the morning?  You need a good night’s sleep.”  In the mirror the incoming president looked at himself, at his dark furrowed brows,  his deep eyes,  and at the toothpaste around his mouth.  He spat, rinsed, turned and walked to the bedroom.  “Are you ready, girl?” He said,  “Tomorrow is going to be a big day.”

After holding each other a while the in-coming president lay on his back waiting for sleep.  It came, but it was fitful.  He drifted in and out of dreams in which he was visited by other presidents, sometimes individually and sometimes in groups, but none spoke to him.  He also had flash backs to  his months of campaigning and to the points in his career when he had realized that expediency was his driving principle, and not the purity of principle itself.  This bothered him greatly and in his sleep he tossed from side to side.  “Sleep,” his wife said and he tried to still himself.

Just before dawn as he lay, drifting in and out of sleep he became aware of the great Native American, Chief Seattle, sitting on the foot of his bed, whispering, “All things connect.  Man does not weave this web of life.  He is merely a strand of it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”  The president sat up slowly in his bed.  He didn’t know if he was asleep or awake but he knew he was looking at Chief Seattle.  “What does that mean?”  The president asked.  “It means,”  Chief Seattle said, softly, his eyes fixed on the president’s, “that you must do the right thing.”  The president looked back into Chief Seattle’s eyes, deep into a past he did not know.  “It means,”  Chief Seattle repeated, “that it is time for you to do what needs to be done and to say what needs to be said and to trust in yourself that it is the right thing to say and that when you say it people will listen and when you do it, people will begin to do as you do.  Trust me.  Your people will speak for you.”  The president swallowed while Chief Seattle rose to his feet, turned, and walked through the wall.

The next day, standing at the podium, his speech on the lectern, the president drew in a slight breath, straightened his suit, turned his speech over, looked away from the tele-prompters, and began.

Looking back, he couldn’t say if he remembered what he had said, but he did remember the roar of the crowd, the look of panic on his chief strategist’s face and the look on his wife’s face when it changed from shock to joy.

The thing that moved him most though was the eagle on the lawn outside, after his speech, the eagle that seemed to turn to him before spreading it’s wings and with slow, strong, pumping flaps, lift itself into the air and bank to the east to where the sun would rise the following morning to bring in the new beginning that the president had spoken when he had begun his speech, the one which would go down in history, with the words, “All things connect.”

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Published in: on November 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm  Comments (1)  
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