Five Million Attend the Inauguration, Five Billion Watch on TV

Will that be the headline on January 21st? Will this be one of those defining moments that captivates the world like the landing on the moon?

Even with all the crises consuming the planet, we can reasonably expect that everyone who has a TV will be watching on January 20, 2009 as America breaks with its past and inaugurates Barack Obama. On that day President Obama will have the world's attention for his Inauguration speech.

Can one speech make a difference? Lincoln at Gettysburg ("Four score and seven years ago"), FDR's first Inaugural Address ("The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."), Kennedy in Berlin ("Ich bin ein Berliner"), and Dr. Martin Luther King during the March on Washington ("I have a dream") proved that an eloquent speech can make a great difference.

Throughout his campaign, Barack Obama rose to great oratorical heights. So much so that the McCain campaign ridiculed him as being all words and no substance. During the transition, Obama has moved quickly to set an agenda, outline policy positions, and name key governmental appointments. Clearly he wanted to prove that his eloquence presaged substantial action.

On January 20th, President Barack Obama will stand at the center of the world's stage. He will address America and the global community. We can expect that his words will be well-chosen, his ideas inspiring, and his mood uplifting. At a time of such violence and uncertainty, it will be good to relish a moment of clarity as we look forward to a future that moves the world away from the turmoil of the past eight years.