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Carlos M. Vazquez II; MC1

Amanda Gorman recites her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. (DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Amanda Gorman Poet Laureate: Words Have Meaning

"...The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it If only we’re brave enough to be it.” -Amanda Gorman

March 9, 2021

Ask yourself, are you brave enough?  Amanda Gorman’s words echo what is in our hearts, on our minds, and pushing our characters into action. Are we brave enough to save the United States’ democracy?  Amanda Gorman, 22,  grew up in Los Angeles and is a recent graduate of Harvard University.  Gorman is the youngest poet to perform at a U.S. presidential inauguration.  Gorman’s moving poem, “The Hill We Climb,” is comparable to the likes of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.  Gorman earned the honor of reciting commissioned work for Michelle and Barack Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda,  Al Gore and many others.  Young in age, but not in experience, Gorman has traveled the country, received prestigious awards and even found time to author three upcoming books published through Penguin Random House.  From her humble beginnings and being raised in a single-parent household, came this bright, moving, and optimistic voice.  Gordman finished writing the words to  “The Hill We Climb”  the night before the inauguration.  Within the aftermath of the failed insurrection of January 6, a glimmer of our tomorrow springs forth.  A vision of what our founding fathers dreamt America would be.  Words have meaning.  Words have power.  Once spoken, once given to the light of day—a breath of life—words become the battle cries of people and a driving force for unity.  Gorman writes of hope, courage, the opportunity we all have to heal what ails America, our brothers and sisters regardless of creed, color, faith, or sexual preference and much more.

 

The Hill We Climb

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.

We braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.

That even as we grieved, we grew.

That even as we hurt, we hoped.

That even as we tired, we tried.

That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.

Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.

It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption.

We feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.

But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.

Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain.

If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the golden hills of the West.

We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.

We will rise from the sun-baked South.

We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons as we free it.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

 

So, are you brave enough? Does change mean giving up?  Do you allow political differences to fracture your democracy past the point of no return?  Unity is achievable if we are not weak and have the conviction of character to start anew.  In the tragic last few years, much turmoil has arisen in every corner of our country, but have faith that we can still move past this.  We can and will climb over, or go through, or travel around the hill and we will be the light.

 

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Amanda Gorman Poet Laureate: Words Have Meaning