January 20, 2005

Inaugural favorites

I was able to catch bits and pieces of TV coverage of the inaugural activities that took place in DC today. As usual, I was struck by the grandeur of the events.

The Speech
Bush's inaugural speech didn't wow me as much as it seemed to wow some of the talking heads on ABC, CBS, and NBC. I thought the last several minutes were the strongest.

The network's talking heads loved to talk about the allusions that Bush made. I don't know all of the allusions, but a few lines did stick out to me, such as when Bush said,

Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self.

One paragraph later, he continued with a very Judeo-Christian theme,

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service and mercy and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

As he closed, Bush made some statements that I would take to be references to the tsunami and related relief efforts.

And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom, not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as he wills.

The final lines of Bush's speech seemed to be among the best worded in the speech, in my opinion. The closing was close to the traditional "God bless you and God bless America," but Bush's wording was different. I wonder why?

In our time, it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may he watch over the United States of America.

The Music
It's hard to beat a military band as far as quality and content. The arrangement of "God of our Fathers" was extremely powerful. I wish they'd sung more than two verses, though.

And the national anthem. Finally, someone got it right. Air Force Technical Sergeant Bradley Bennett did an amazing job singing the song in a classical tenor style. There was no slipping and sliding around, looking for notes under the guise of style. He knew where the notes were and hit them. Straight on.

[Disclaimer: As an Air Force Reserve brat, I might be biased. But I'm not.]

And as I've mentioned before on my blog, I like all the verses, especially the fourth. Wish he could have sung that, too.

The Parade
I didn't get to watch much of the parade, but I did see some of the beginning. I was glad to see the NYPD and FDNY up near the front with their Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps. I've heard and seen the FDNY and NYPD Corps on several occasions.

There's little that is more powerful than the sound of the pipes, snares, and bass drums.

The NYPD (and Port Authority PD) both had trucks from their Emergency Service Unit in the parade. Of the cops that died on 9-11, many were from those units.

And the FDNY had the beautiful 10-Truck in the parade. Engine 10 and Ladder 10 were housed directly across the street from the WTC in one of two firehouses in NYC to house rigs with matching numbers. (There's over 200 firehouses in the city.)

10-Truck was destroyed in the collapse of the towers and the Seagrave fire apparatus manufacturer employees donated this truck as a labor of love.

Read the story about the truck here. FDNYTrucks.com has a page where you can see the past and current rigs from Engine 10 and Ladder 10. The photos are kind of large and you have to scroll down a ways to find the current 10-Truck that was in today's parade.

What a wonderful touch to honor these groups at the front of the parade.

The Un-favorites
Of course, the talking heads were not popular with me. Peter Jennings--no surprise--was the worst, talking way too much when he would have done better to let viewers use their own ears to hear the goings-on.

In the parts I saw, Jennings excessive talk began right after the inaugural speech. Later, when I watched some of the procession to the White House, he was still going.

He and his cohorts at that point were complaining about all the security being provided to the president and leader of the free world.

"Hardly a favorable picture of a free society," they were saying. Or "Washington is a secure city. We all know that."

What about the thousands of people lining the route who cast their votes for the man--or his opponent? What about the post-9/11 world?

Those thousands of people had a say in the selection process of the leader of their country. And they voted for him in larger numbers than ever.

And DC as a secure city? What about the plane that slammed into the Pentagon across the river on 9/11? Who are they to declare DC, NYC, Boston, or any other city secure. Especially when they berate the government for not knowing about and preventing the 9/11 attacks?

The other talking head who annoyed me was the local DC anchor who was commentating during the parade. He has an Emerald-sounding surname and he moved to the DC station some months ago from NYC.

As the NYPD and FDNY went by, all he could do was talk about the pipers and drummers on St. Patty's Day in NY. He talked about the PD ESU squads a little, but didn't mention their sacrifices on 9-11. And he seemed to know nothing of the importance of 10-Truck.

The Music, (Reprise)
As I type this, I've been inspired by the day's pageantry, so I've got Robert Shaw's "Battle Cry of Freedom" CD playing as I type. It's a great thing to have on hand. Beautiful, quality patriotic choral music along the lines of the music at the swearing-in of Cheney and Bush--It's not "Stars and Stripes Forever" and John Phillip Sousa.

Oh, and Shaw's CD includes the fourth verse of The Star-Spangled Banner.

Posted by JRC at January 20, 2005 05:19 PM | TrackBack