By the time most Cleveland and Bradley County residents read these words, you will have already shaken the hands and accepted the warm hugs of hundreds of well-wishers, taken the oath of office as read by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and delivered an inspiring Inaugural Address that we hope will narrow the great divide between partisan politicians, and the American public of whom they are supposed to represent.
We hope too you enjoyed our community’s gift to your historic ceremony. Compliments of our four-year institution of higher education — Lee University — five buses delivered to your doorstep the voices of 200 angels whose message of hope, beauty and conviction we embraced years ago.
These young vocalists are our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, and our newfound friends who have come to our hometown from distant states, foreign countries and overseas continents to expand their educations and to explore the opening steps of a winding journey into life.
They are students of diverse heritage.
They are black.
They are white.
They are aspiring young men.
They are endearing young women.
They are a collective of strong faith.
They are believers in the innate good in all mankind.
They are movers of the past, shakers of the present and changers of the future.
They are ambassadors of our Cleveland and Bradley County community, and they are the finest among our village — our young and our old, our rich and our poor, our gifted and our challenged, and our leaders and our followers.
They are our most precious gift — a bundle of energy wrapped in love and draped in humanity.
They are the treasure that best defines “The City With Spirit.”
We trust you savored their message. We pray you delighted in their show.
Mr. President, yours is a tough and winding road. Only those who have followed this path of the presidency before you can truly understand the spiritual burden you bear and the emotional load you carry from daybreak to dusk on not just this day nor that day, but on each and every day of your time in the most revered office on this planet.
It is not a responsibility many want.
It is not an accountability others desire.
Some will support you.
Others will oppose.
A few of the most trusted will stand by your side.
Many among the distant will question your every move.
It is the nature of people. It is the life of politics.
It is not necessarily a good thing. It by no means is a bad thing. It is just a thing, a part of the natural order of leadership.
Some might say it is just a part of the job. Perhaps they are correct. Maybe they are not.
In the opinion of many — including our own — the office of the Presidency of the United States of America is made far more difficult than it needs to be. But then, complexity is the very fabric of man and the unquestioned foundation of mankind.
Your decisions will not make everyone happy.
Your views will even make some mad.
But in voicing your opinions and in shaping the doctrines that follow, remember this.
You are our president.
You have been elected by our people.
You are the leader of the greatest nation on earth.
And although you may not always enjoy our support, we pledge to you our respect.
Lead us as you would wish to be led.
Speak to us as you would wish to be addressed.
We pledge to do the same, not just on this day but on any day that America awakens to greet the warmth of a new morning dawn.