Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
Inauguration in Grand Junction
February 4, 2005
It's a bit late to be writing about the inauguration, but since I take the last Friday of the month off, it gave me time to think about it and to read what other people said about it.
I am, of course, very relieved that the Washington ceremony went off without any violence. Unfortunately, however, the depth of protection which surrounded the event made one wonder whether we were in Washington or Iraq.
The President's speech was somewhat less belligerent than the one four years ago, and much more flowery. But the thought that we can bring freedom and democracy to "every ruler and every nation" is a little overwhelming. Desirable though the goal may be, the disaster in Iraq does not make a very impressive start.
There was lots of protest -- everything from signs and shouts to a few snow balls. I was glad to see them. The protesters gave a distinctive American flavor to the occasion. In most countries peaceful protest is not allowed, but here we still have freedom to speak, and disagree, even if we don't always do it very politely.
The inauguration in Washington was not the only one on January 20. A Citizens' Inauguration was held on the Court House steps here in Grand Junction. Organized by The Grand Valley Peace and Justice and members of Koinonia Church, the people met to talk about the need for peace. There was no band, no banners, no nationally famous people, no police and military guards. There were only people who truly believe in peace and are willing to stand up and say so. There were people who oppose the war in Iraq and are deeply afraid of the announced military policies of the present administration. They are afraid for the American men and women in Iraq who are risking their lives every day.
Those participating in the demonstration were responsible, contributing citizens from a wide range of professions, mothers and fathers and some students, all activists in the sense of being willing to stand for their principles. And I m sure most of them were people with deep religious values.
The focus was on the voice of peace. There is a need to be vocal and active in speaking out about the direction our country is going. Yes, it gave a venue for the "hate Bush" people, but that was not its aim.
But as is inevitable in a democracy, the demonstraters had protesters. My fellow Sentinel columnist did not only disagree with the demonstration, which is certainly his right. He suggests that it was akin to traveling back in time to see the Druids doing the mambo at Stonehenge. And he is quite right. In pre-Christian Celtic society Druids formed the intellectual class. They
were law-makers and judges, and the concept of Justice is central to the Druid's Prayer. Druids have been associated with Peace from earliest times.
President Bush says he wants freedom and democracy in every country in the world. Grand Valley Peace and Justice, along with other groups across the country, is saying that it wants peace. Is it possible that some day -- some day in the far distant future -- those goals could be reached?
If they are they will require the power of government AND the power of dedicated, activist citizens with courage and a voice.
Maybe I should quit taking a week off each month. It gives me oo much time to dream.