Last week, I was in our nation’s capitol for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.
The feeling of optimism and elation among the crowds of people we met reminded me of the “peace and love” days of the 1960s and ’70s. There was something very different in the air. Everyone was smiling and happy. To be in Washington for this historic event was an experience I will never forget.
When I returned home, I was inspired to read the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which I have not read for a while. It is a timeless document espousing the values on which this country was founded.
But 232 years later, does our society and government policies reflect “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? We still have work to do in that regard, but at this historic time, we have the opportunity and responsibility to support our new president in moving toward those ideals for all Americans.
Also, while reading the Declaration, and being a longtime Irish activist, I could not help but notice the similarities between it and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, read by PÁdraig Pearse outside the General Post Office in Dublin at the start of the Easter Rising in 1916.
The proclamation’s statement that “[w]e declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible” has not yet been realized.
Six counties are still occupied and governed by a foreign power. Once Britain withdraws and Ireland is reunited, Ireland will be able to “prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.”