Dance President Bush -
Dance while coalition soldiers and Iraqi innocents are killed and maimed;
Dance while the wounded writhe with pain;
Dance for those who will never dance again.
In November 2008, I drafted a letter to President-Elect Obama asking him to have the nation forego all inaugural-day balls and other celebrations in consideration of all those who have so little, if anything, to rejoice about in these troubled times. I sent a draft to friends and family, most of whom considered me a party pooper, wet blanket, stick-in-the-mud, etc,--considering how many people were looking forward to celebrate this special inauguration. Although, I felt that there had been enough rejoicing on November 4th, I toned down the letter to the following, emailed it to the transition team and faxed it to three of Senator Biden's and two of Congressman Emanuel's offices in the hope that it would get through to Obama:
In January 2005, I was sick at heart seeing video images of President Bush dancing and making merry at the inaugural festivities. I realized that because of the unjustified war his administration had started in Iraq, multitudes were writhing in pain and sorrow while he was dancing: multitudes of wounded military personnel and innocent civilians, their families and the families of those who had been killed. Not only those killed and wounded in Iraq, but in Afghanistan also; as you so rightly pointed out, if we had not diverted our human and fiscal resources to Iraq, we might long ago have eliminated al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and achieved stability there.
I am writing because I believe that it would send a tremendously significant and compassionate message to the world if your actions on inauguration day were to stand in stark contrast to those of President Bush in January 2005. I'm not certain how this could be done, but perhaps in your inaugural address you might indicate that, although there is certainly much cause for rejoicing on this historic day, no matter how joyful YOU may appear at the festivities later, you will always be thinking of those who cannot rejoice. I would also recommend a visit to the wounded in Walter Reade Hospital sometime during the day.
As for future inaugurations, I hope along with so many that there will be no religious aspects to the ceremonies in keeping with separation of church and state. And wouldn't it be fun, if fitting, to have a stand-up comedian make a presentation?