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Guest Column--Unity Day



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January 30, 2013 - By Olivia Shumaker

On the morning of Jan. 21, I expected to spend my day off from Lake Orion High School within the happy little world of my books.

The fact that it was inauguration day was inconsequential—I had not displayed interest in any of the previous inaugurations in my lifetime, and did not expect this one to be different. My mom and I decided to turn on the news that morning to watch the proceedings, agreeing that this was still history in the making, and we could turn it off when our interest waned.

As it turned out, my interest held on for hours, through every speech. The longer I listened, the more engrossed I became, forgetting any other trivialities I had intended for that day.

My fascination had nothing to do with politics, little to do with policy and even less to do with any kind of aspiration. As I listened to the president's speech and the prevailing theme of togetherness that unified the inauguration, I found these principles applicable to our little Lake Orion.

"Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm," President Obama said.

The Lake Orion School District recently met with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department to discuss safety measures and held multiple safety drills. We can all agree that our students, whether a third grader or a senior preparing to start college next year, deserve to go to school without fear.

So too can Lake Orion agree that none of our students deserve to be mistreated. At the basis of district-wide anti-bullying initiatives, schools have been teaching their charges to look beyond the surface before judging someone, to speak out in support of each other and treat one another with kindness. In short, Lake Orion wants us to act together towards a better tomorrow for everyone.

Ultimately, it does not matter if you agree with me. Regardless of your political affiliation, religion, ethnicity or talents, we are all part of the same town, community, city, state, country, world.

As poet Richard Blanco said during the inauguration in his poem 'One Today' "and every window, of one country—all of us—/ facing the stars/ hope—a new constellation/ waiting for us to map it, waiting for us to name it—together."

To become a better Lake Orion, we must be united.

The presidential inauguration is a kind of political New Year. On this day loaded with ceremonial importance and laden with tradition, politicians set aside their differences to swear in the leader of our country.

They become united on this one day, acting together in the spirit of our founding fathers to keep our country alive. Like me, and like President Obama as he paused on his way out of the inauguration to look back at the scene one more time, none of them could look away.

Maybe I'm na´ve, but I have to hope that the unity they displayed on that day will help carry their decisions for the next four years.

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