On Tuesday night, I, along with millions of others, watched Barack Obama’s final address to the nation as our president.

As I listened, I recalled another presidential address, one delivered on a cold, windy January day when a young, hatless, newly minted president threw out a challenge to a new generation to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Did I receive that news cynically in my early 20s? No. I was inspired, as was a generation – there were things to do: Peace Corps, civil rights movement, anti-war struggles, inner-city work in poor neighborhoods, teaching in university-without-walls storefronts, community organizing.

I did some of that; many of us did, and are still doing it. And, ironically, that is what President Obama has called us all, whatever age we are, to do again – his speech was more a call to service than to rest on laurels. He asked us, sometimes in guarded language, to save our democracy.

I’m reminded of another speaker who I listened to in Montgomery, Alabama, after the long march from Selma in 1965, who asked us all not to be weary, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I’m older now, not quite as idealistic, but the call is fresh. Choose your battle and answer it.

Nicole d’Entremont

Peaks Island


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.