What a day. What a beautiful day. What a glorious day.

A song sings in my heart today. A song of praise, to be sure. But a song more of hope. For the first time in a very, very, very long time. A song of real hope.

Just like when the clock turned 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2021, we all knew that the awful, deadly and disgusting virus would not mysteriously disappear. We all knew that with the birth of a new day, we would have yet another death to mourn. Yet, it was symbolic that maybe — perhaps — 2021 could not be as horrible and disgusting as 2020.

But we knew it would take time.

We knew it would take work.

We all knew it would take us to make it work.

Still, there was a hope. A symbolic change. A glimmer of hope that tomorrow will be better.

So, too, there is today. Inauguration Day.

When the clock turns 12:01 a.m. tonight and tomorrow, we all know that we still live in a land of fractured and a country divided. And, it’s not just Democrats vs. Republicans. It’s not Christianity vs. any other form of religion. Truthfully, it’s not black vs. white.

More, we are truly sick with a deadly disease far worse than Covid.

We have been stricken with hate vs. love.

And that, my friends, is just like this awful, disgusting, killer disease that has haunted our land and our bodies for the past year. It is killing us. Covid is killing us. Yet, so, too, is hatefulness.

We can discover a vaccine for this virus.

Can we discover a remedy to cure all the hate?

Just like the methods to eradicate the virus that we hope to deploy faster, quicker, more often to more people? We must all be committed, too, to find a way to listen more; understand better; cherish what is true and right; and love one another. Again. Maybe, for the first time.

We know it will take time.

We know it will take work.

We all know it will take us to make it work.

But on this day, we turn a serious page in our history. It is a symbolic change, to some degree. Yet, it is a change that brings with it hope and a chance. Hope for better days ahead. A chance to do better. So much better.

Speaking of chances….

I hope you have the chance to listen to the National Anthem sung today by Lady Gaga.

OUR National Anthem.

And, I hope you listen to more than just the words. I hope you listen to the emotion and love in how Lady Gaga delivered those hallowed words — carried on the wings of harmony and melody — to both you and I.

In all of my near 65 years now, I have never heard the song sung like this. Not ever.

It was the best rendition and performance that I can ever remember. In fact, right now, I can’t remember another version. This is the only one I can remember.

It touched my heart.

But my hope is that you listen and allow the song to resonate in you and me and all of us and allow the song to remind us that we MUST join together and raise all our voices on high in a psalm of both celebration and prayer.

We MUST join together.

The debate can continue. It will always fire your opinion, and never put out mine. That’s the way we are made, I guess.

But the hate has to stop.

The path forward can be discussed and charted; planned and argued. We will never agree on who is right; or where is best. I think that is the reason we came up with Maps to begin with. To settle the score. That’s the way we are made, I guess.

But forward we must go. All of us. Some days, you will carry me. I hope that someday I can carry you. Yet, we must trudge on. Forward. We. Must. Go.

On this day, I hope you have the chance to listen to the National Anthem sung today by Lady Gaga.

OUR National Anthem.

If you do, with open ears and an open heart, I bet you one thing:

No matter how mad or disgusted you are with life, you cannot take a knee. It will make you stand. Straight up. Straight up.

No matter how much you despise your neighbor and what they may or may not believe in, you will not be able to hold onto hate. It will make you want to grab the person next to you and hold their hand high to the sky for we do believe in one thing. This Country is your land; this Country is my land. Straight up. Straight up.

No matter how much you think you are right and the next person is wrong, you will not be able to laugh at them and cast hurtful words. You will want to stop, and hold onto one another and lift each other up with the same vigor as our troops who vow to leave no soldier behind. Ever. One foot in front of the other. Leading to safety. Straight ahead. Straight ahead.

If you do not?

I feel sorry for you.

Truly, I feel sorry for you.

While Covid may cause you to lose your sense of smell and taste, you are suffering much worse. This hate has caused you to lose your sense of love and life. And, those are senses that give us hope. Those are the senses that give us life.