A YEAR ago tomorrow, Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States on a freezing, windswept day in Washington, D.C. The entire world celebrated his victory, and the ecstasy on the mall that day was overwhelming even for those who were skeptical of our first African-American president.

Twelve months later, our national mood is much different. A vicious partisan debate over health care reform has divided the nation for half a year. A movement almost solely based on opposing the president has claimed a significant portion of the electorate, and a tight Senate race in Massachusetts suggests that even members of the president’s own party have become skeptical.

As we enter President Obama’s second year in office, and face an election that could determine the success or failure of the most ambitious pillar of his domestic agenda, we felt it appropriate to revisit that moment a year ago when we felt open-hearted and optimistic.


The Night Before: The streets of Washington on the eve of the inauguration,” by David Sessions. Published Jan. 19, 2009.


Lights! Camera! President! Did we really need celebrity overcoverage to make Obama’s big day special?” by Sharon Pelletier. Published Jan. 21, 2009.


The Moment it Changed: Standing on the National Mall the moment Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States,” by David Sessions. Published Jan. 21, 2009.


God Almighty Said it Was Time: Watching the inauguration in Harlem, where Barack Obama’s presidency is no ‘secular miracle,'” by Alisa Harris. Published Jan. 23, 2009.

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