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Street Talk

New President Faces Unprecedented Challenges

By Susan Hart

The earliest Presidential Inauguration I remember was Jimmy Carter in 1977. Because of the ceremony, I learned our nation was governed by a president. It was so interesting to me that one ordinary man would take on such responsibility for people he did not know. Jimmy and I had one thing in common: he grew peanuts, and I liked to eat them. To a four-year-old, it was that simple. We were pretty isolated in the Ozark Mountains. The only visitors we ever saw were kayakers, canoers, bootleggers, and hunters. Politics were hardly on their minds. And my parents agreed to disagree on the subject. So, heated political debate was not part of our dinner table conversation.

With the help of School House Rock, my mother’s matter-of-fact take on things, and my interest in my ever growing world, I learned just how complicated the whole mess can be.

However, each election since has brought the same history-in-the-making butterflies. Change, triumph, and expectation excite my hopefulness. Where I may not have the same grand expectations for the one ordinary man (or woman) I did when I was four, I do have  confidence in my God, my country, and my fellow Americans. How fitting is it now, to witness the inauguration of a black president as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also.   

The other day, I overheard a woman who was trying on clothes tell the attendant, “We’re not going to the Inaugural Ball, but we are going to an inaugural ball… At the capital,” she added. “I did not vote for Mr. Obama, but we are thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of this historic event.”

Whether we vote Republican, Democrat, or other, we are privileged to have that vote. When our guy wins, we’re relieved. When he doesn’t, we watch closely. Either way, America is still the safest and free-est country in the world.

Our National Trust for Historic Preservation is watching closely. On December 22, 2008, the organization released a set of recommendations for an economic stimulus package for the Main Streets of America. Entitled, “Rebuild Main Street, Create Jobs, Protect Our Heritage,” this package offers a menu of programs and policies that can support grass-roots bricks-and-mortar projects and developments in our established community centers.

“We cannot have a thriving Wall Street without a thriving Main Street.” was President Elect Barack Obama’s central message when he announced his economic team. In fact, he mentioned “Main Street” no less than three times. It is clear that the new president will face unprecedented challenges to help communities (like Water Valley), entrepreneurs, and citizens rebuild our cities and jumpstart our economy.”‘ posted Doug Loescher, Director, National Trust Main Street Center. The recommendations have been forwarded to the Obama Administration, and can be viewed at

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