Dancing to 'Hail to the Chief' and Sweating to the National Anthem

January 21, 2009   

Inauguation I believe my toes are still numb from yesterday's Inauguration; but my heart is warm for two distinct reasons:

The first was the sight of people dancing the The Presidential Anthem ('Hail to the Chief') for the first time in my lifetime (maybe ever?). 'Hail to the Chief' has always seemed somewhat inappropriate to me: not because we shouldn't revere our President, and give him the respect the Constitution allows him, but because the march seemed to highlight the outsized amount of Power held by such unfitting men.

When Obama exited the steps of the Capitol and the band struck up, people danced all around me. "Change We Could Believe In" became "Power We Can Celebrate." It's a newer, smarter Power, and I look forward to seeing it in action.

And if we are ready to dance to "Hail to the Chief" I think we should be ready to sweat to our National Anthem.

The second reason I am so moved is because I believe the call to National Service made yesterday will be met by my fellow Americans. Obama renewed the call for us to tackle our Nation's problems as if it was effort like going to the moon. To step up, "not because it is easy, but because it is hard."

I believe my work with the NY Tech Meetup is one form of service: hopefully our work will help create jobs and a stronger industry will stimulate technological advances which are good for all people.

However, it is not enough. So, this weekend I am going to start orientation to become a Big Brother. I've chosen Big Brothers and Big Sisters of NY (over great programs like Camp Interactive) for personal reasons (see below), but there are so many ways to serve society and this Country. I'm sure many of you already do serve in some way (and many work to serve their families in a way which cannot allow more work); but if you do not yet serve in some way, consider Obama's call to service, and consider joining me and sweating to the National Anthem.

Personal Note: I’ll point you to the inspiring story of America’s first Big Brother, as reported in the Cincinnati Post in 1999.

Here’s an excerpt:

The phrase ‘All men are created equal’ echoed in [Irvin] Westheimer’s mind, fresh from a re-reading of the Declaration of Independence that began his day. But the pitiful scene in the downtown alley struck him as a bleak contrast to Jefferson’s powerful eloquence.

Westheimer ran downstairs and introduced himself. The boy, friendly but somewhat wary, said his name was Tom.

That Irvin Westheimer, seen below presenting Richard Nixon with a plaque naming him an Honorary Big Brother, was my Great Grandfather. (Click image to enlarge and read the funny quip Irvin said to Nixon at the event)

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