Alexander invokes Alex Haley’s motto at Inaugurationww
From Staff and Wire Reports
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander invoked the words of author Alex Haley Monday at President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony for a second term.
Alexander, R-Tenn., spoke briefly and then introduced Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who administered the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden.
Alexander said “Roots” author Haley lived by the motto, “Find the good and praise it” —something Alexander says also could be applied to the nation’s long tradition of transferring or reaffirming the immense power of the presidency.
“We do this in a peaceful, orderly way — there is no mob, no coup, no insurrection,” Alexander told the thousands of dignitaries and ordinary Americans gathered at the U.S. Capitol and on the National Mall, according to his prepared remarks.
A presidential inauguration “is a moment when millions stop and watch,” the senator said. “A moment most of us always will remember. A moment that is the most conspicuous and enduring symbol of our democracy.
“How remarkable that this has survived for so long in such a complex country with so much power at stake — this freedom to vote for our leaders and the restraint to respect the results.”
Alexander was visiting George Washington’s home in Virginia, Mount Vernon, last year when a tour guide told him the first president had once posed this question: “What is most important of this grand experiment, the United States?”
“And then,” Alexander said in his remarks, “Washington gave this answer: ‘Not the election of the first president, but the election of its second president. The peaceful transition of power is what will separate this country from every other country in the world.’”
Americans celebrate today “because this is the 57th inauguration of the American president,” Alexander said. “Find the good and praise it.”
Alexander was given a speaking slot at the swearing-in because he is vice chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which was in charge of planning the event.
Alexander and other committee members started Inauguration Day by going to the White House with their spouses for coffee with Obama and Biden. The senators then rode in the presidential motorcade to the Capitol for the swearing-in.