Inauguration is a reason to celebrate

By Chuck Kajer

On Thursday, Jan. 20, President George W. Bush will take the oath of office for his second term of office.

The president, amidst the traditional pomp and circumstance, will celebrate his inauguration with a series of parties, balls and other festivities.

Many have called the plans for the many parties too expensive, inappropriate and extravagant, especially during a time of war. They are missing the point of an inauguration.

The presidential inauguration is a symbol of our nation's ability to transfer or retain power among sides who disagree with each other. An inauguration is not a partisan event. It should be a unifying event, one that brings Republicans and Democrats together to celebrate the nation and its ability to work together to make the U.S. a better country.

For one day, all Americans can celebrate that our government changes hands not by a bloody regime change, not by a foreign country invading, not by armed conflict, but by the power of the ballot. Two sides battled not with guns, but with words, during a long, heated exchange last summer and fall. Except for some conspiracy theorists, most Americans can accept the results, even if they don't like them.

And the inaugural party isn't necessarily for George W. Bush, for the Republican Party, or for the supporters of President Bush and his policies. It is for all the people. It's for the high school band from Lakeville that traveled by bus this week to play in the parade. It's for the florists from Woodbury, Minneapolis, Bloomington, Coon Rapids and Morris who have been chosen to participate by doing the floral arrangements for the many official receptions. And it's for the thousands of other Americans who will be taking part in, attending or watching the many official events that go with the inauguration.

This is not, as some claim, a slap in the face of the soldiers who are thousands of miles away, trying to keep order in a desert country. Instead, it is a celebration that today, as has been the case every four years since 1793, the reins of power in our nation can change hands without the need for these same soldiers to intervene.

And that truly is something to celebrate.

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