By Chloe McLaughlin
Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2012
Last Monday, my Facebook Newsfeed was flooded with numerous posts about the Inauguration Ceremony that was held to swear in President Barack Obama for his second in the White House. Now, I go to a very conservative Wesleyan school and live in a very Republican state, so you could probably guess that many of the posts I read were not entirely positive. I am also a music major, so I also read many humorous posts in debate about who was or was not lip syncing, and whether or not Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson were appropriate Inaugural choices. I hate to admit that I did not watch the inauguration ceremony, because I was in class, so I cannot voice my opinions in that debate…sorry Beyonce and Kelly.
Though I missed the ceremony, I did read President Obama’s speech and the Oath of the President and I found myself struck by the sentiments. Regardless of political stance or personal feelings towards our current government leaders, I think anyone could feel the power behind a ceremony of this caliber. The man standing on stage swears to “preserve, protect, and defend” the country for the next four years. He swears to dedicate his life to the good of the country and the people of America. What a powerful thing to swear to more than 300 million people.
President Obama emphasized the power of community and the necessity of unity in his speech, and I found myself troubled by that necessity. I read through my Newsfeed and saw no unity. I saw negativity and debate. The President said “America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.” How are we supposed to seize such wonderful possibilities, if we are a divided nation? Can we not stand up behind a President regardless of his political party?
It was truly ironic and appropriate that Monday was not only the Presidential Inauguration, but also Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Power of Unity has never been so well understood as it was in the Civil Rights Movement. Now is a time in the history of our country when we truly need to band together in the face of our trials and stop being “Republicans” or “Democrats” and start being Americans. Whether we agree with the actions of our President we must agree that we should share in the responsibility to better our country and improve the current problems we are facing. It is our right to disagree, but also our duty to support and respect a man or woman who is willing to dedicate his or her life to trying to make our country a better place to live in the best ways they know how.
The President is right. If we are going to grasp the reigns of our potential in this moment, as a country we must “seize it together.” We do not always have to agree with our leaders, but we must respect them. We must stand behind them in the pursuit of finding solutions to the issues we face and pray that their decisions will be honorable. The President will do his best to “preserve, protect, and defend” the law and the country, and sometimes we may not agree with the ways in which he chooses to up hold that oath but he is attempting to up hold it nonetheless. We should strive to be Americans not defined by our parties, but rather defined by our love for our country. We must seize this moment and become a unified country of Americans who love our neighbors and our leaders not because they share our views, but because they too love their country.
Chloe McLaughlin is a college freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana majoring in Church Music and Christian Worship. Originally from Frankfort, Indiana, Chloe was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2012. Learn more about Chloe here!