Obama’s inauguration speech - Ending

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Thursday 5 February 2009

While Obama’s reference to race was both expected and powerful, we had to wait right to the end for it. And while the speech then concluded with another slightly repetitive and verbally burdened passage, I found it strong, inclusive, and actually quite realistic (not the usual idealistic floaty stuff he normally ends on). Our greatest challenge is simply to persevere:

Let it be said by our children’s children
When we were tested
We refused to let this journey end
We did not turn back
Nor did we falter
We carried forth that great gift of freedom and
delivered it safely to future generations

In conclusion?

While the speech was enjoyable, uplifting, well-executed and I suppose appropriate for the occasion, in my opinion, it is destined to be forgotten. Why? To think of the many hours that must have been spent in crafting the message, choosing the words, selecting the imagery, and matching the metaphors, for all its masterpiece (and in my opinion it is still a masterpiece) it missed one important thing: a tagline. It missed what all great speeches must have: a phrase that defines the whole speech. Where was the “nothing to fear but fear itself”? Where was the “Ask not what your country can do for you”? Where was the “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”? We were left waiting right to the end, on tenterhooks, for the tagline, for the sound byte, for the quotable quote, for the mark that this speech would have on people’s memory forever. We were waiting and then it finished.

So it has been, and so it must be.


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