02/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What Martin Would Say

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

-- 1 Corinthians 13:11, New International Version

Barack Hussein Obama became president several minutes before taking the oath of office of the President of the United States. It was during that musical number, or as my buddy Chris Dufour put it: "A John Williams arrangement based on Copland and performed by Ma and Perlman? Rapturous!"

At the stroke of noon, Obama dropped the "elect" hyphen from president and graduated to 44. Then he took the oath on the Lincoln Bible, just days after he escorted his two daughters to the Lincoln Memorial to show them how presidential history's trail lead from the Great Emancipator to the Great Persuader.

Did the president appear to be in a dream state at times? He seemed to draw on something greater than his individual self, what CNN kept calling that "throng" of people cascading down the Mall from President 16 to President 44. A higher power.

Before he gave his speech, President-elect Obama walked to the dais with an air of calm and seriousness, undoubtedly feeling the gravity of the durm und strang of the economy, two wars, and a disdained outgoing administration.

Yet whatever your political persuasion, did you not help to lift him up? For those of us gathered around our electronic campfire, the telly, did we not reach out our hands, shed a tear or even stand up and yell "Yes!"

If he fails, our country goes with it.

FDR must be having New Deal Envy. We are about to embark on a most incredible undertaking and overhaul, to which this new president is asking us to donate our blood, sweat, and tears. No couch potatoes need apply.

Gathering clouds, raging storms, they are here. We listened.

Dear Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery, the star of the show after 44, who made me want to holler:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

Only the good reverend from Alabam' could deliver this benediction with a cadence that bounced off the clouds and dispelled the harshness from the wind and cold.

He called on the nation to ask us to lift up not just the man but also his wife, his two most precious little girls, Sasha and Malia. What a world they are entering.

I sit here with no children of my own and yet those words stirred my heart as an educator of young people and as an auntie Nan many times over. Precious Lord, Dr. Lowery compelled, protect those who are most vulnerable and innocent.

We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.

With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Amen, dear Reverend. Now I know what Martin would say.