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A Feast in Celebration at Macedonia –
Edgefield joined the country in what was called, by the media, “a double celebration.” Martin Luther King, Jr., was honored by many, at the same time as the Inauguration. A noontime program honoring King was held at Simmons Ridge Baptist Church, Center Springs Rd., Edgefield. (An earlier celebration for King was held at Bettis Academy – see the Bettis News in section 2 of our January, 23rd print edition.) Barack Obama was swept into office with great fanfare of music and speeches as he took his oath in front of the Capitol building a little before noon, January 21, 2013.
A speech that began with the “serenade” of words around the Constitution and its freedoms spelled out for everyone, it was in the second part of his inaugural address that he won most favor, as noted by one who heard the address at the celebration party in Macedonia on Monday.
A group of celebrants, around forty-to-fifty there, at one time, sat and watched the event on a large TV screen that was reflected also on the opposite wall. For those who wanted more close-up experience, there was a smaller TV available.
A luncheon spread, flanked by colorful balloons, was in the middle of the Macedonia Center gathering-room and was enjoyed throughout. (This will be the site also of the upcoming Black History Month series.)
Applause resounded in the Center for President Obama as well as the entertainers who sang patriotic songs and the poet Richard Blanco, whose poem lifted the audience into the heavens with his imagery of the sun rising over the U.S., from Appalachia to the Rockies, and he iterated the feeling of oneness and unity with such phrases as “one sky,” “all of us,” and one of the last of his metaphors: “Hope, a new constellation waiting for us to name it, together.” (Full poem below.)
By Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper –
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives –
to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us —
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together.