Friends and Neighbors

February 19, 2009
President Obama & Prime Minister Harper

President Obama & Prime Minister Harper

President Obama’s first foreign trip as president took place today when he came to Ottawa, the Canadian capital. No matter your politics the leader of 300 million Americans met the leader of 34 million Canadians for the first time.

Canada and the United States share a 4,000 mile border. The last time hostilities took place across this border was the War of 1812. We are fast friends, allies, and trading partners.

– Canada is fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban who sheltered Bin Laden and his terrorists.
– Canada took in the many grounded passengers as result of the 9/11 order to ground airliners.
– Canada’s ambassador to Iran helped get Americans out of the country during the revolution.
– Canada and the United States were allies in two World Wars and the Korean conflict.

These are just some of the examples of our friendship and mutual respect.

As countries we have much in common, but like all friendships there will always be some differences. Our countries are both stable and thriving democracies. Best of all we are true friends. As a Canadian with American links I’m proud of the Can/Am relationship.


Lincoln Bicentennial 1809-2009

February 10, 2009
Stamp from the 1960's
Stamp from the 1960’s

This year is the 200th anniversary of the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln. To honor this event the National Postal Museum (part of the Smithsonian) has an online exhibition called “From Postmaster to President”. I think you will find this fascinating.

Here is the link,

 

http://www.arago.si.edu/

(Click on Featured Exhibit in lower left of this page.)

I will be posting more on Lincoln in the coming days.


“So help me God”

January 20, 2009

This clause that is almost always added at the end of the presidential oath taking seems to get some upset.

This is an optional phrase. It is not part of the constitutionally mandated oath of office. It is in effect a sort of prayer by the president taking the oath, a personal thing.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Since the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, all presidents have added the phrase “so help me God” after taking the oath.

The first president to use”affirm” rather than swear in the oath was Franklin Pierce in 1853. Herbert Hoover is the only other to use “affirm” in 1929. Neither gave a particular reason that I could find in my research. It is almost certain Barack Obama will use “so help me God” after his oath.


High Hopes

January 19, 2009

The inauguration of Barack Obama tomorrow brings back my memories of another young man with high hopes. These high hopes were held by the president-elect and also people in general.

Inaugural Invitation, 1961

Inaugural Invitation, 1961

It was January 20, 1961. John F. Kennedy was being sworn in as the 35th President of the United States. He was the youngest person to be elected and the first Roman Catholic to hold the office.

Change was felt by all. Ideals were held high. Realistically those hopes were likely too high, but we didn’t care. The prospect of new ideas and new talent blew like a fresh breeze through our minds. Being only 11 at the time I suppose I was truly naive and overly optimistic. Now tempered by the last 48 years, I am realistic and struggling to be hopeful.

I wish nothing but the best to President Barack Obama in his presidency, but we need to temper our hopes with some realism. The world is a much more complex place in 2009, then it was in 1961.


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