I was blessed to be able to attend Monday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama to his second term as President of the United States.  I grew up in Washington, DC, but had never attended an inauguration in person before.  In his short speech, President Obama highlighted these words from our Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Familiar words to be sure.  But this is what caught my attention.  The President suggested that while these basic rights are self-evident, they are not self-executing.  Here’s what he said,

“Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on earth.”

In my early years with Habitat for Humanity, I had a recurring nightmare that one day, no one showed up to volunteer.  The President’s words helped me think of the voluntary decision people make every day to extend a hand to help those in need of a home.  We believe that having a decent place to live is a large part of a free and happy life, but we know that if we don’t act, that this basic right does not just magically appear for everyone.  It takes work—hard work—on the behalf of many and, at Habitat, we are blessed to witness that love that flows forth daily from our community.

So I thank you all for the voluntary decisions you make, through Habitat, that literally changes the lives of families in need in our community and is a part of the “never ending journey” that the President speaks of in delivering on those bold truths so eloquently stated in the Declaration of Independence.