The History of the Present

January 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Local historians are quick to point out the similarities between today's event and past inaugurations. Obama may be walking in the footsteps of two presidents who led the nation through difficult times.Barack Obama, now the 44th President of the United States, called Americans to action during Tuesday morning's inaugural address. "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

Local Fresnans gathered to witness history.

"Before Barack Obama was elected Senator in 2004, only 4 African-Americans served in the Senate. That's 1865 to 2004. In 4 years an African-American is elected as president. It's a historical moment," said Dr. Ethan Kytle at Fresno State.

History professor Dr. Ethan Kyle of Fresno State said today's address draws from other notable inauguration speeches like JFK's and others. "His call for individual responsibility certainly echoed Kennedy's speech. I think that was a departure from what we've seen in recent inauguration speeches," said Dr. Kytle.

Obama's inauguration speech: "For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together."

"I think there was the tone of serious gravity and hopefulness that you was at FDR's 1932 speech. That was fitting for the time," said Dr. Kytle.

Obama: "Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America, they will be met."

Political Science Professor Tom Holyoke said like Roosevelt, soon Obama will be judged according to what he can sign into legislation in his first 100 days in office. "President Barack Obama in a situation not unlike Roosevelt's where the economy has essentially collapsed the public is looking to government for help. He will probably be heavily scrutinized at that 100 day marker."

But at this moment many Americans are excited about what changes will come in the next four years.

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