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Watching Obama from the outskirts of Silicon Valley

I took off today to celebrate my wife's birthday which coincides with the inauguration of Barack Obama. We watched together this morning in one of the tiny cities around San Francisco Bay that is remarkable for only one fact. In the early 1970s, San Leandro was known as one of the most racially divided cities in America. But times change. After the 2000 Census it was reported that San Leandro now has some of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in California.

Thus we sat in a little microcosm of the America that elected Barak Hussein Obama as the 44th president of the United States — a patchwork quilt of a nation that was reflected in the audience who gathered in a kitschy little sportsbar that normally features athletic events.

Instead about 200 persons of all races, many wearing Obama or Michelle t-shirts, watched the parade of dignitaries and and the vast sea of citizen onlookers, and listened with moist eyes as man in whom a nation has invested its hopes pledged to lead not just America but to extend a hand to the world.

Our youngest child sat with us. AnaSofia is five and she tolerated the event with a childish impatience that we soothed with treats from the breakfast buffet. We wondered whether she would remember this day because it is for her that Obama asked America to rediscover the virtues of its Founders and the courage of those who built on their imperfect foundation.

I am hopeful. Obama's symbolism in swearing his oath of office on Abraham Lincoln's Bible set the tone for his inaugural speech. He urged the nation to turn away from the bullying and swaggering that has, occasionally masqueraded as its destiny. Instead, hsked his fellow citizens, as he has throughout his campaign, to rediscover the mission that Lincoln defined when he called America "the last best hope of Earth."