My Inaugural Reflections

02/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Tuesday, as I watched Barack Obama be sworn into office as our 44th President of the United States, I was overwhelmed with pride and emotion, and reminded of what is best about this country.

As someone who lived through the civil rights movement and saw African-Americans shunted to the back of the bus, I cannot help but think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who forty-seven years ago stood on steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke of his dream -- that his four children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Tuesday, that long-awaited, long-fought-for dream of equality was realized.

And while we must celebrate this extraordinary, historic moment in our nation's history, we also must heed the call of President Obama who told us that, "starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

The challenges we face today are as difficult as any I can remember in my adult lifetime -- but I am confident that we have elected a President who has the fortitude and wisdom to lead us to a better future.

In foreign policy, it's a new day, as our president said America is willing to extend its hand to the world if people will unclench their fists.

I stand ready to help our new president every step of the way as we work to turn our economy around, bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, and confront the many challenges facing us -- from healthcare to education to protecting our environment.

I am ready to work for the change we all believe in.