Now the real journey begins for America

Jan. 29, 2009, will forever hold a place in history for Americans – of all races.

By an overwhelming majority vote, we elected and swore into office the nation’s first black president. So begins a new chapter in America’s story.

No sooner have the remnants of yesterday’s parades and inaugural balls been swept from our nation’s streets and Capitol than the real work for President Barack Obama begins.

President Obama’s call to action for citizens to help mend our nation’s woes strikes a familiar tone. The responsibility for changing our country for the better has always been shared. We demonstrate it daily in so many ways … by helping neighbors when times get tough, by doing our fair share to better our communities and by voting.

America faces some difficult days. Record-high unemployment. Bailouts. A floundering stock market. War in the Middle East. A failing education system that has, in fact, left a number of our youth behind. And a sickly health care system.

These are but a smattering of the difficult problems that face our 44th president of the United States.

With a majority Democratic Congress behind him, President Obama is expected to seek passage of his $1 trillion economic stimulus packages, dubbed the “21st Century’s New Deal.”

It is the largest new investment in building roads and bridges since the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the nation’s interstate system in the late 1950s.

President Obama hopes to create jobs and simultaneously provide states with much-needed infrastructure upgrades.

And as he reminded us during Sunday’s pre-inaugural celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial, meeting the challenges ahead will not be easy.

“It will take more than a month or a year – it will likely take many,” President Obama told the crowd lining the Washington Mall. “Along the way, there will be setbacks and false starts and they will test our resolve as a nation. But despite all of this, despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the U.S. will endure. That it will prevail. That the dream of our founders will live on in our sight.”

Indeed, it is a new day in America. Now the real work begins.