Both the inaugural speech of President Barack Obama and the poem “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander were written in a pretty simple language, understandable for all people. It was made purposefully, because both pieces were aimed at reaching a wide audience of people of different nationalities, cultures and languages who make up the population of the United States of America. And I think that both of them have reached their goals quite effectively.
The poem “Praise Song for the Day” was written exactly for the 2009 presidential inauguration and it was delivered directly after Barack Obama’s speech. It was a very effective and successful ending of the inauguration, for the poem continued the idealism and emotionalism that sounded in the speech of the new President. The main theme that unites the poem and the speech is an attempt to encourage people to turn their faces to each other, to become truly united in what they are doing, and to work together closely in order to overcome the crises that the country and the world are currently facing. Another purpose of these two pieces is to awake people’s memory and to force them to remember all those people who have struggled for the creation of the USA and who have made it possible for the present generation to enjoy all the advantages of prosperity and high development. It should give Americans an inner drive not to give up and to continue their struggle for success.
The poem of Elizabeth Alexander gave listeners the right picture of the America’s modern society, the right understanding of the feelings and believes of modern Americans, of their everyday activities and concerns. But it also has perfectly shown what all theses people are striving for.
I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see. (The New York Times, 2009)
This is what Americans are experiencing right now, they understand that they are moving somewhere, but they can’t figure out where this road will lead them, in some way they are lost and confused. Almost none of the living Americans can remember the times of the Great Depression, so they don’t know how to handle this situation, how to act and what steps to take. So exactly at this point in American history its people needed a new leader who could unite them and show them the way out of the crisis.
The inaugural speech of Barack Obama was addressed to the population of the United States on the whole and to every one of its citizens in particular. It was addressed to people of different races, religions, and social statuses, people who have very little in common and at the same time have one main common feature – they all are Americans. It called for the patriotism of people, for their desire to help their country to re-gain its former strength, stability and economical position. The speech was written and declared in a very confident manner. Although Barack Obama underlined the fact that the problems America is currently facing and is going to face in the future are numerous he made it evident that he is ready to face all these problems, that he is ready to fight against all of them and that eventually with an effort of all the people of America those problems will no longer exist.
In his speech the new president concentrated attention of listeners not only on the economical and material aspects of the crisis, he also showed great concern for the emotional state of people – ‘Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights’ (ABC News, 2009). He tried to underline throughout his speech that the most important elements of success are inner strength, true psychological motivation and desire to win. Obama tried to convince American people that despite the crisis they still have all the resources, talents and skills their country needs to obtain its previous leading position – ‘We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year’ (ABC News, 2009). One of the main ideas of his speech was that no matter how strong and severe the crisis is the United States of America is still the best and the strongest country in the world.