Next Tuesday a truly historic day

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Column by Jim Clark

By The Staff

Regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, black, white or Hispanic, you have to admit that the inauguration on Tuesday is a historic day for the United States.

When Sen. Barack Obama takes the oath as president of the United States, it will mark a major diversity breakthrough for our country.

And hopefully, after he’s in office for a little while, his race will be forgotten and his policies will be the thing that gets scrutinized the most.

It’s hard for some people to understand that all these things will be accepted in time.

Some of us can remember when John F. Kennedy was running for president. Until then, we had no Roman Catholic as president. The naysayers were out in force: “The pope is going to take over the country. The first amendment freedom of religion is going to be changed, etc. etc.”

Of course, none of that happened.

And now, 48 years later, how many people know, or even care, that Sen. Joe Biden, who will become vice president on Tuesday, is a Roman Catholic? Was that ever mentioned at all during the campaign?

Either way, of course, this was going to be a memorable day. If we didn’t get our first African American, then we would have had our first female vice president when Sarah Palin was sworn in. So once the candidates were set, everyone knew that Jan. 20, 2009, would be one for the record books.

So if you get a chance to tape (or record) the inauguration, do so. Save it for your kids, and their kids. Someday it will be covered in the history books, and we’ll be able to say that we were around to see it.

MORE PRESIDENTS? Former City Council member Jerry Robinson sent us some information the other day that was quite intriguing.

It was about the first presidents of the U.S., and the list doesn’t start with George Washington. Here it is:

“The Articles of Confederation only allowed a president to serve a one-year term during any three-year period, so John Hanson actually accomplished quite a bit in such little time. He served in that office from November 5, 1781 until November 3, 1782. He was the first president to serve a full term after the full ratification of the Articles of Confederation - and like so many of the Southern and New England Founders, he was strongly opposed to the Constitution when it was first discussed. He remained a confirmed anti-federalist until his untimely death.

“Six other presidents were elected after him - Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788) - all prior to Washington taking office. Why don’t we ever hear about the first seven presidents of the United States? It’s quite simple - The Articles of Confederation didn’t work well. The individual states had too much power and nothing could be agreed upon. A new doctrine needed to be written - something we know as the Constitution.

George Washington was definitely not the first president of the United States. He was the first president of the United States under the Constitution we follow today. And the first seven presidents are forgotten in history.”

That ought to cause some discussions in local history classes.

OFFICE CLOSED: A reminder that Monday is Martin Luther King Day, and our office will be closed. Deadlines are moved up, in cases of advertising, to Friday, Jan. 16.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.