Last week in my Presentation Skills class, my instructor Keith McDonald showed the class President John F. Kennedy‘s inauguration speech. Taking place on this day 48 years ago, it’s seen as perhaps the best speech by a United States President; one all incoming Presidents have had to live up to.

Today I believe that inaugural address which popularly told Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” has been bested, but not for its style and timelessness.

img_0536Barack Obama’s speech communicated to Americans something more than large dreams and catchy promises. He communicated a call to action for his government. Obviously he’s taking over at a terrible time for Americans (and yes, the rest of the world) economically. Add to that the many issues with the war in Iraq, people losing their homes, health care, education and the list goes on. He seems prepared and committed to seeing that change take effect, but he’s not sugar coating it for anyone.

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real,” Obama told the massive crowd on hand and the many watching on TV and the Internet. “They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.  But know this, America –  they will be met.”

Another glaring change that’s been mentioned many times is that Obama is the first African American President. That in itself is a drastic change from the old white norm we’re used to seeing. Simply being in his position Obama is communicating the beginning of change in American race relations. His being elected President of the most powerful country in the world has given hope to so many young people, and minorities specifically.

With eight out of 10 people supporting him, according to CNN, Obama will be given a chance to implement his message of change. However, if he doesn’t come through on his promises after the honeymoon is over, that approval rating may just drop down to a level we’ve been accustomed to seeing attached to some Texan I can’t remember the name of.

I’m interested to see where President Obama takes the country. He’s certainly done an effective job at communicating to me that I should trust what he’s doing. Only time will tell, but his first day on the job is one many people around the world won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

What did you think of the speech?