Several things came together in my mind as I stood with a throng of people of all ages, sizes and colors on the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C., to witness the second inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States.
The first was the historical significance of the year 2013. It was 150 years ago in 1863 that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln. Having recently seen the excellent film “Lincoln,” I experienced anew that period in our nation’s history when we finally came to our senses and did what was right in God’s eyes by granting freedom to all who were enslaved. As Lincoln so prophetically said in his address at Gettysburg in the latter half of 1863, “That these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The second thing that came to me as I stood looking at our great Capitol adorned in the splendor of the inauguration was that this is the date that we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was 50 years ago in 1963 that Dr. King led the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Many of the spectators at Obama’s second inauguration had colorful signs and banners with magnificent quotes from Dr. King’s many great speeches, including the 1963 march. I even had the privilege of greeting an elderly gentleman who had marched for equality and freedom in Selma, Alabama. The joy that beamed from his eyes was palpable as he stood watching the first black president of the United States renew his oath of office for the next four years. He had come a long way from Selma, both literally and figuratively, and so have we as an entire nation.
The third thing I thought about were the millions still enslaved in so many parts of the world where Food for the Hungry works. The “restavek” children of Haiti who live a backbreaking and squalid existence as indentured servants in the homes of families that mistreat and abuse them. The girls in India, Cambodia and the Philippines who are sold into sexual slavery far from their homes, crying long into the night in hopes of being delivered from their life-robbing plight. The young boys in Bolivia working long hours in unsafe conditions in underground mines or breaking rocks in granite quarries.
Abraham Lincoln had a dream—that slavery would be abolished from our great nation. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream—that people of color would achieve full equally with whites. Both believed deeply in freedom that emanates from the Creator of the universe. In Food for the Hungry (FH), we share that dream—that child slavery around the world would be seen by all for the plague that it is and would be driven out of existence. Millions of children are calling out for help. Will you join us in reaching them?”