Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome America - to the 21st Century

I have the day off today and I spent the morning watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I will leave the analysis and punditry to the professionals but I wanted to share one reaction.

Folks, we just watched a revolution in America. I was struck with the image of the peaceful dethroning of the leader of the free world. And the new leadership will be markedly different. This was a repudiation of a failed administration. The United States has thrown out its ruling party without firing a shot. No bullets, no coups, no civil war just a very public campaign and a very public decision by the citizens to take this country in a new direction.

The ceremony of the inauguration was beautiful and stirring. But the image that struck me as most telling of the true spirit of our country, was the scene after the inauguration. The incoming President Obama walked with the outgoing President Bush through the building to the heliport on the east side of the building. The two shook hands, kissed each other’s spouses and the ousted leader of the greatest nation on the planet boarded a helicopter and flew off. His administration had been overthrown and his rival had taken control without anyone dying, no shots fired, no poisoned wine. As I think through history, this is a very unique and special tradition in America that just does not occur still today, in many parts of the world.

Time will reveal how well we have chosen our new direction but we are clearly on the threshold of a new epoch in our history. I pray that God will guide all of us, not just our leaders, through what appears to be some very difficult days ahead.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Great Day for Sports Fans in CR

What a great day for sports fans like me who live in Cedar Rapids. Kurt Warner led the Arizona Cardinals in a great game. They beat the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 today for the NFC championship. Now it is on to the Super Bowl, the first for Arizona.

And don't forget Zach Johnson. Zach shot a 5 under 65 today to win the Sony Open in Hawaii by 2 strokes. That is Zach's fifth career win on the PGA tour.

Both of these men are favorite sons of this city and have many fans here. Count me as one of them. Actually there were several people gathered around the TVs today at work, cheering them on.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby it's COLD Outside

There are really only two stories in the news today - the miraculous airplane ditching in the Hudson River and the temperature in the Mid West. Both are interesting stories.

It is cold here in Cedar Rapids. We set an all time record Thursday morning with a -29 , yes, that is 29 degrees BELOW zero. Of course those poor souls in the Dakotas where in the -40's, so we can't complain. The wild part is that the weather service is predicting we will hit 32 degrees by next Tuesday. A 60 degree swing in just a few days? That is just wild. I will forgo the question of global warming. I'm sure the proponents would just say this is all part of the cycle. Some of us at work from the "boomer generation" where reminiscing yesterday about the dire predictions of a coming Ice Age that were so popular when we were in college. I don't claim to know what is to be believed - but yes, it was cold yesterday.

Did you see or hear about the plane that went down in the Hudson River yesterday? What a story. I think what impressed me the most were the attitudes of the people involved. Everyone that I saw interviewed, be they passengers or people from the ferry boats that helped in the rescue, had a positive attitude about the experience. Passengers were scared and shaken, yes, but all of the people that you saw on the news talked about how great the pilot and the crew were and how the passengers helped each other get to safety. I haven't even seen a news reporter pointing a finger and trying to find out who messed up. The story is that the plane hit a flock of birds and blew the engine - the pilot made a brilliant emergency landing in the Hudson River - the ferry boats in the area immediately went to the rescue and plain old passengers on those ferries spontaneously organized themselves to pull the passengers out of the water.

Don't get me wrong - I think that is the real story. I'm just amazed that I have seen no attempts at blame, no finger pointing, no complaints about the incident. It just seems to me that it has been a long time since we have had a tragic story unfold that didn't include blame and threats of recrimination. It is heartening to see this story unfold as it has in the media.

Call it luck, call it fate, call it the hand of God - call it what you will. The story to me is that a group of strangers encountered a crisis situation in America's largest city and teamed up to avert a tragedy. That is truly the American way and I am thankful that we still have that spirit in us.