Believe it or not, I was supposed to be in Washington, DC today. Several months ago, Sarah Murdoch—founder of The Guide Collective—and I had bought our tickets to Washington, DC, filled with grand intentions. Because we couldn’t travel internationally, we wanted to explore different parts of the United States (even earlier in 2020, we had planned to visit Nevada, but those plans fell through), visiting historical and cultural touchstones so we could proudly share our country’s heritage treasures with one another and with our followers on GC, Adventures with Sarah, and The Travelphile.
Sadly, tragic events disintegrated those plans on January 6, 2021.
Instead, I shared this day, January 20, with my husband, at home, on the couch, watching the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th President of the United States and of Kamala Harris as the 49th Vice President, drinking from my coffee mug that commemorated a previous inauguration.
In the spirit of unity—a unity that President Biden said in his inaugural speech is “that most elusive of things in a democracy”—I reflect on my experience and sentiments from this 2021 ceremony as well as the 2013 Inauguration, and perhaps, those sentiments might ring true with you.
In my heart of hearts, I believe that there truly is more that unites us than fractures us; that, as described by St. Agustine and mentioned by the president, a people “is the association of a multitude of rational beings united by a common agreement on the objects of their love”; and that healing and moving forward can happen when we come together in our love of country, in mutual respect, and in the desire to uphold the core human values upon which our country was built.
Today I take to heart and at face value the words of President Biden, and I feel newly inspired. I take into consideration my place in American society—
as a woman,
as a daughter of immigrants from the Philippines,
as a wife and stepmother,
as a teacher,
as a member of a faith community,
as a member of my local community,
as a friend,
as a traveler,
as a US citizen.
I realize that I am blessed to have been born in the US (thank you, Mom and Dad, for seeking and working for a better life). I realize that I enjoy great privilege in being able to travel and learn from experiences and cultures from all over the world, and I do not ever want to take any of that for granted. As a person who wants to be the kind of citizen who contributes to and bolsters our society rather than simply one who takes from it, I believe we have the responsibility and opportunity to heed the plea from President Biden, to listen to “the better angels of our nature”, and to be instruments of positive change. Now more than even, we can and we must.
As my mom said to me after watching the inauguration, “Today is a great day. Hope is here!”
To read about my experiences and introspection from the 2013 Inauguration of President Barack Obama, please visit: https://thetravelphile.com/2013/01/23/for-love-of-country/