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Case shares his inaugural experiences

In his latest e-newsletter, Ed Case shares his impressions of President Barack Obama’s inauguration last week in Washington, D.C.:

“Audrey and I were truly blessed to witness history up close and personal as we joined fellow former Members of Congress and others Tuesday at the west front of our Capitol for the inauguration of President Obama and Vice President Biden.

“The day was biting cold D.C. January and the Capitol rose above us, white against a blue sky. Five huge American flags, bearing 13 to 50 stars, backdropped the inaugural stage and embraced the history embodied in the moment. We looked back down the Mall where we were joined by almost 2 million of our fellow citizens.

Ed Case

Ed Case

“Cheers of “O-Ba-Ma” and “Yes-We-Can” erupted at the Washington Monument and swept like giant waves toward and over us to crash and echo on the Capitol. The Lincoln Memorial was dim in the distance but the spirits of our 16th President and Martin Luther King were all around us. When our new president concluded his oath, we and everyone around us were overcome with emotion.

In my seven years now in Washington, I’ve never lived a week like this. We began Sunday at joyous receptions for the Punahou ohana and the Democratic Party of Hawaii. I’m happy for Punahou, for it’s inescapable that the unique background and qualities that brought Barack Obama to the Presidency were forged in part in that community.

“And I’m happy for my party, which engaged tens of thousands of previously disengaged Hawaii citizens in the most purely grassroots movement since the election of Gov. John Burns. Monday, we tuxed- and gowned-it at the Pearl Presidential Inaugural Gala, a celebration of our national Asian American and Pacific Islander communities which included Hawaii natives Eric Shinseki and Antonio Taguba and drove home the long-overdue political ascendancy of so many ethnic minorities across our country.

“We started Inauguration Night at the Obama Home States Ball with friends and colleagues from Hawaii and Illinois. President Obama welcomed us all with “Aloha!”, and he and our First Lady danced like high school sweethearts on prom night. We capped an incredible day pure Hawaiian style at the Hawaii State Society Inaugural Ball with music, laughter and celebration among fellow Hawaiians near and far.

“Throughout the week we had so many other special moments with former colleagues, staff and friends in D.C. (not to mention the hundreds of friends from home who made the journey with us), as well as quiet moments of personal reflection and reacquaintance with a city that’s been such a part of my life. But running throughout it all were these themes: fierce pride in my Hawaii; unconditional recommitment to my country; and deep hope and confidence in our future together.

“Of course, we all know that the celebration is over and the hard part has begun. And we also know that what needs to change in Washington and our country and world did not change simply on completion of one man’s oath.

“But the essential lesson of this election is that change is not up to someone else, but each and every one of us, in the actions we take every day. As President Obama said in his inaugural speech: ‘Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.’ I truly look forward to sharing that work with you.”

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