Letter to NY Times - June 2004 / by Nate Westheimer

This letter, sent to the New York Times in June of 2004, is a part of the "Public Record" collection on innonate.com.-- After reading David Halbfinger’s Tuesday, June 1st piece “In 5 Words by Langston Hughes, Kerry Aides Hear a Likely Campaign Slogan,” I began to think about my earliest attention to politics. It was January of 1993 – I was almost ten years old – and on that chilly winter day, I sat inside watching our family’s 13-inch TV.

The parade, the procession, the pomp and fair – and mostly the peaceful transfer of power from one President to another: all these things dazzled me while watching my first Presidential Inauguration as a conscious political observer. But however splendid the ordeal, there was one simplicity that most stuck out and stuck with me: the poem by Maya Angelou, “On The Pulse of Morning.” Going back a reading this poem could do us all some good.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully, Come, you may stand upon my Back and face your distant destiny, But seek no haven in my shadow.

America is at a crucial point in history and has changed much in the last ten years. I, for one, would like to back to the times when poets graced inaugural ceremonies, and the perhaps go forward in time to “Let America be America again.”

Nathaniel Westheimer Cincinnati, Ohio