Wednesday, 24 September 2014

THE OBAMA ERA BEGINS

Roscommon People Deputy Editor PAULINE SCOTT asked some Americans who live locally for their views on Barack Obama’s historic inauguration as President of the United States…

Teary-eyed moments 

Watching the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States was an emotional affair for Californian native Diane Dunnigan, who now resides in Glanduff, Lecarrow.

“I got teary eyed and my daughter called from the States and she said ‘are you teary-eyed?’ I was very impressed, a leader was talking to us. I liked his emphasis on personal responsibility, the call to the people of the US to be personally responsible was a very, very good thing to say. We can’t expect him or the Government to do it all.

“He showed firmness talking about terrorists and hopefully will establish a Government which will have better relationships with other countries, especially Europe. I was very pleased that he sounded firm about reaching out to other countries.

“In terms of the US itself, it gave people a feeling of ‘yes, let’s pull ourselves up and take personal responsibility’. Also, his speech covered so many things and included everyone.

  “The crowd was magnificent. I think 1.8 million people attended. I lived in Washington for five years and worked in the Pentagon and I have never seen that many people in Washington in my life and there was a real good mood going on and people were feeling good and talking to people, saying hello and smiling.

Diane has been living in Lecarrow since June 2004. Prior to that she worked for the US Government as a civilian employee of the Corps of Engineers, which comes under the military. She worked as a project manager on flood control and hurricane evacuation. “My duty station was the Pentagon and Washington became my home town,” she recalls.

A native of California, her great grandfather Thomas Dunnigan left Glanduff and went to San Francisco, where a huge extended family still resides.

  For Shannonside presenter Kathy Casey, the inauguration of Barack Obama was an event that inspired hope, hope for a better education system, better health plans and a better economy.

Kathy is a native of Texas but now lives in Kilglass, Co. Roscommon. “I thought it was awesome. I thought he was inspiring, he brought confidence forward, he brought hope forward. I think that it’s a great opportunity right now for a President to do something very valuable. He has a democratic house and they are going to be working together to bring forward education, better health plans and a better economy.” Speaking of the spectacle of the inauguration, she said, “I think it was truly amazing. I didn’t expect it, but it brought a tear to my eye. A billion people watched it worldwide. It affects the world and the world was interested.”


Sweet success for Karen

Karen Gordon of Ballinderry Schoolhouse in Fourmilehouse is in the process of setting up the Roscommon Chocolate Company, an artisan chocolate business, but she took time out of her hectic schedule on Tuesday last to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama as US President.

A native of California, Karen moved to Ireland in April 2006 and purchased the schoolhouse in Ballinderry in October 2006. “We have been here over two years and we love it, despite the weather,” she reported.

Karen voted in last year’s election by absentee ballot and was “thrilled to death” by Obama’s win. “I believe Barack Obama is someone I am proud to have representing my country and I haven’t been able to say that for a while. He is just the proof of the pudding, that sometimes when we need it most, the cream does rise to the top and I am thrilled to death.”

On Tuesday afternoon and evening, Karen kept tuning in to the inauguration and on Wednesday sat and read the transcript of the inauguration speech. Among the most impressive sights for her were the ocean of people to be seen in the Mall and the good humour that prevailed despite the freezing conditions. “I can’t imagine that many people in the town of Washington, it must have been very tough going,” said Karen. “For ordinary people, to be there and be part of this historic event, it takes a lot of motivation and dedication.”


‘Wonderful spectacle’ 

For Michael J. Farrell and his wife Marilyn from Skehard, Creggs, Tuesday’s inauguration was a wonderful event. Both voted in last year’s election, supporting Obama in a state that Obama subsequently lost by the narrowest of margins.

The couple watched as the crowds gathered, the inauguration took place and the parades that followed, from their home in Creggs. Michael spent over 30 years in the US and both he and his wife are US citizens. For many years, he worked as the Editor of The National Catholic Reporter, an international newspaper distributed in 96 countries. Now retired, he is a regular contributor to various arts programmes.

“It is five years since we lived in the States, but we follow American politics closely ever since and I was hoping for something better after George Bush. When George Bush was elected, the rest of the world figured that American people said ‘it’s only Bush and the neo-Cons, they are an aberration’, but when they re-elected him, the rest of the world looked more askance at the US.

“If Brian Cowen does something wrong, it’s a bit of a problem, but it doesn’t affect the rest of the world, but the US President affects Africa and other countries.

“We are both citizens (Michael and his wife Marilyn) and we both voted. Our votes were cast in Missouri. Obama lost that by a hair. We were absolutely delighted with what followed and we followed every word of it.

“It gives a little bit of hope to everyone, not only for America, despite the recession there, but for the rest of the world, from Kenya to Switzerland. Everyone is saying that things are getting better. He will have to be superhuman to come close to matching the aspirations, but we are delighted.”

Speaking of the inauguration event, Michael said, “It was magnificent. The Americans, despite economic problems, put on an amazing show. I thought it would be a typical gesture of his to cut the expenditure back and give it to the more needy, but maybe everybody needed a party. When you come out of a bad winter, you need St. Patrick’s Day and Easter to get over it and that’s what yesterday was for every American.

“It was a wonderful spectacle, with some very moving moments. We watched every debate. We spent five weeks in the States in Autumn and got to know all the players and the hangers on.”

On the subject of the inauguration speech, Mr. Farrell said, “He couldn’t possibly give a bad one even if he tried. An inauguration is not a very exciting event. If you don’t know the participants, it all hangs on the speech. Given his background and the enthusiasm, people were expecting too much of his speech, yet once again he excelled himself or as the Americans would say, he hit a home run.”