There was great emphasis made before Barack Obama's inauguration about reconciliation as a people, of reaching out across the aisle in a spirit of cooperation. This emphasis was enhanced by the focus on Lincoln and Obama being sworn in on the same bible as America's Civil War president, who stressed "malice toward none and charity for all."-
Obama indeed struck that note, but there were two areas of emphasis where the historical focus lay more with two Democratic presidents with direct linkage to World War Two and dealing with grave economic times.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt sounded the correct note in his memorable first inaugural address in stating the phrase that stands out historically more than anything else said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."- With America caught in the vise-like grip of the Great Depression, his words served to enforce and reinforce the American spirit and the necessity to triumph over economic adversity.
Barack Obama sounded a comparable note in stressing the necessity of Americans rolling up their sleeves and getting to work, stressing the essential of common goal and purpose in a manner that unifies rather than dividing.
Obama takes office following calamitous events of the preceding eight years with U.S. leadership advocating and defending a policy of terrorism and taking the nation to war on false evidence, refusing to allow UN weapons inspectors to complete their work.
At the same time leaders of key American allies who supported completing that inspection effort were rudely insulted. It was accordingly fitting and highly appropriate for Obama to send out a signal that the comprehensive change he advocated in his winning 2008 campaign would be carried out in the foreign affairs field.
When Obama cited the importance of reaching out and repairing damaged relations internationally he was visiting familiar terrain as a Democratic president. Most of World War Two was fought under FDR, the same leader that presided over a domestic war against the Great Depression. John F. Kennedy fought in World War Two and achieved heroism as a PT boat commander in the Pacific naval campaign.
Both Roosevelt and Kennedy achieved triumphs internationally, winning friends abroad with programs such as the Good Neighbor Policy under the former leader and the Peace Corps and Alliance for Progress under the latter.
Throughout the world Obama's November victory was greeted with elation. World leaders and their people stand to embrace the new president and the kind of positive change he proclaimed to auger.
These were appropriate notes to highlight Obama's inaugural address and hopefully they will constitute a beginning, constructive building blocks toward a better future domestically and internationally.