Presidential Inauguration Coincides With Martin Luther King Day

January 21, 2013, 9:34 AM HST · Updated January 21, 12:51 PM
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Hawaii Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono with a unique vantage point of today’s Inauguration events for President Barak Obama. Courtesy photo, Office of US Sen. Hirono.

By Wendy Osher

President Barack Obama was sworn into office for a second four year term during an intimate ceremony yesterday.

The White House ceremony preceded today’s public inaugural events on the steps of the US Capitol.

In his address before the nation, President Obama said “We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.”

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“We in Hawaii are especially proud and happy for the president’s re-election. Ohana is more than a word in Hawaii. It is a way of life, and President Obama is one of our own,” said US Senator Mazie Hirono.

“While there are challenging times ahead, I know President Obama cares deeply for the people of Hawaii and our nation,” said Sen. Hirono.

US Capitol

US Capitol

When she was in her 20s, Sen. Hirono related that she had the opportunity to temporarily work for Madelyn Dunham, the grandmother who helped raise President Obama in her Makiki apartment. “Ms. Dunham was an accomplished woman who fought against workplace discrimination to become one of the first female vice-presidents at the Bank of Hawaii. It is Ms. Dunham’s determination and fight for fairness that clearly lives on in our president,” said Sen. Hirono.

The public events coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Leaders in Hawaii say it is an opportune time to revisit the values of tolerance, respect, and mutual appreciation.

“Today we honor the work of Martin Luther King who dedicated himself to the American principle that we are all created equal. He was a steadfast guardian of the freedoms that make us a stronger people and a greater country,” said US Senator Brian Schatz in a statement.

“Today we also inaugurate President Obama, a celebration in itself, of the importance of all women and men being given the opportunity to achieve their potential. This day is doubly a reminder of what is possible if we work to achieve the dream of Martin Luther King,” said Sen. Schatz.

In a statement issued by fellow Sen. Hirono, she said, “Dr. King moved the nation to stand up against intolerance and fight injustice, and the people of Hawaii have a unique understanding of Dr. King’s dream. We are a diverse people of many stories and many cultures. We know that while our differences may define us, they should never divide us.”

She continued, saying that as a young girl, Dr. King’s work was one of the first things that inspired her to seek out ways to serve the community.

“Now decades later, there is no better testament to Dr. King’s life’s work than those who are working in his name to help others in need. I applaud those in Hawaii and around the world who are volunteering and giving of themselves on this day of service. It is up to all of us to continue Dr. King’s fight for peace and justice, and I join the nation in celebrating his legacy,” said Sen. Hirono.

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