The day after we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Americans will proudly celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. Tuesday, Jan. 20 is not a day for politics – it is a day of national pride as our nation’s first African-American president takes the oath of office.
I am eager to join hundreds of those I serve from Wisconsin’s First Congressional District – and millions from across the nation – in attending the historic Inauguration Ceremony. It will mark an important step closer to Dr. Martin Luther King’s hopeful vision he spoke of in Montgomery, Ala., on March 25, 1965.
"We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience," King remarked. "And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man."
We must not tire in our vigilance against injustice, and we must not dismiss the painful acrimony of division. Without letting up in this effort, we must cherish this moment of moving closer toward the realization of King’s dream.
I am hopeful that President Obama will bring a new tone to Washington – a new tone to politics and a new tone in celebrating what separates us. Diversity – in race, in religion, in beliefs, in philosophies – enriches our democracy. Partisan rancor need not accompany legitimate policy debates in the years ahead.
I am eager to work with the incoming Obama Administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress in addressing our economic crisis and keeping America safe.
Regardless of political party, all Americans have a stake in a successful Obama administration. If President Obama succeeds, the United States succeeds. Our vigorous debates must never lose sight of this fact: that we are all Americans, striving together to build a more perfect union.
For over 200 years, passionate presidential campaigns are followed by peaceful inaugural ceremonies. It is a tribute to strength of our constitutional republic and a tribute to the American people. With the inauguration of our first African-American president, we have additional cause for celebration this week.
Let us appreciate this historic achievement together.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.