Hope, solemn resolve and a chilly January day

"Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. ...

"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity."

My favorite moment came after the inauguration. In the milling crowd that waited for the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, I ran into some kids from The Champion School in Stone Mountain, Ga. One was an 11-year-old boy named Mohamed.

I asked if he had a favorite inauguration moment.

"That black lady who spoke second," he said.

Myrlie Evers-Williams? I asked. The woman who gave the invocation? Yes, her. I asked if he knew anything about her. He said no, but she had some interesting things to say about African-Americans.

I told him how her husband, Medgar Evers, had been shot to death 50 years ago this year, in his driveway in Mississippi by a Ku Klux Klansman.

"Did he go to jail?" Mohamed asked.

He did, I told him. Many years later. Because Medgar Evers' widow, Myrlie, wouldn't let it go.

Mohamed looked thoughtful.

"She wouldn't stop till he got some respect?"


Inaugurations are tough for cynics. They're a day for big thoughts and big words and beliefs that promises will come true. They're for using words like America, majesty, hope, peace, equality, freedom, and using them without irony.

But within minutes of the end of the inauguration, the National Mall was almost empty and the trash collectors were out. The visitors would soon be gone. The regular work of government would soon resume. The wind was still chilly.

Party over. Now or never.