This morning, the world watched President Barack Obama speak these words during his inauguration:
"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted--for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things--some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
"For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
"For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
"For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction"
Those words are especially meaningful for our family, because it wasn't some generations-ago ancestor who packed up their lives and crossed oceans for our prosperity, but your Baba. She traveled from the only home she had ever known in the Soviet Union to this country, where she had no friends, no language and no prospects. A three-year-old me was with her on her journey-- just a few months older than you are now. She brought me here for exactly the reasons our new president says: so that I, and later, you, could have a better life. She sacrificed everything in the hopes that her gamble would pay off. And, of course, it did. We live in a cheerful home, full of whatever books we choose. We are free to say whatever we please, and we have never had a moment of wanting for anything in our lives. Because of her. And because of millions more like her, the dream of this country came true, and can continue to come true for generations to come.
As I watched our 44th President swear to defend the Constitution of this great nation I felt, for the first time in a very, very long time, like we are, once again, set on the path to fulfilling this country's promise. For you. And later, by you. For your children. And theirs.