So… January 20, 2009, history takes its latest bow when President-Elect Barack Obama is sworn in as America’s 44th Chief Executive. The fortunate ones lucky enough to secure Inauguration tickets will brave arctic temperatures as the rest of America watches this latest chapter in US history unfold on an ocean of televisions from Seattle to the Florida Keys.
January 21, 2009 will mark the real onset of what might be called the Altering Era. That’s the day the President-Elect enters the Oval Office and starts work on a world of problems. What follows is a best guess at what to expect from Barack’s first hundred days in office.
Until a kind benefactor/patron finally purchases the Oxford English Dictionary (complete set, please) for me, I will be using the excellent (free) resource Online Etymology Dictionary for my Friday updates. Here’s how the latter OED defines the roots of our word, “serve”:
c.1175, “to render habitual obedience to,” from O.Fr. servir “to serve,” from L. servire “to serve,” originally “be a slave,” related to servus “slave,” perhaps from an Etruscan word (cf. Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve). Meaning “to attend to (a customer)” is first recorded 1362; that of “to set food on (a table)” is from c.1386. [Full entry here.]
So we find here that the Latin root for the word “serve” essentially refers to a “slave.” Though modern usage has updated that interpretation to include a more general implication of noble intent, I think the root still is still relevant. It also puts
my monologue this week in a different context.
Read More | Online Etymology Dictionary
President-Elect Obama has, in his life and in his campaign, continually stressed the importance of an American public that commits to community service. Unlike the Bush version of sacrifice, which stressed spending money, Obama’s version implies real, hard work: a toil that requires sweat and elbow grease committed by members of the American public in order to improve our society. It is a philosophy demonstrated by his post-law school job as a community organizer and made concrete in his America Serves policy ( as given here on his change.gov website). The text is as follows:
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
Is this a good plan for America?
Read More | Change.gov
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