Though inaugural poems are usually intended for adult audiences, One Today, a poem written by Richard Blanco for President Obama’s 2013 inauguration, is accessible to children in the form of a picture book with the help of illustrator Dav Pilkey.
This poem spans from the break of dawn long into the peace of night, while also encompassing places and landmarks all across America. Despite the grandiose scale of One Today, Blanco effectively captures the unique beauty of America through mellifluous and vivid language. Blanco shows differences in culture, socioeconomic status, and occupation among Americans by including descriptions such as “pencil-yellow school buses”, “hands digging trenches”, and “whispers across cafe tables”. He even includes greetings in different languages to concretely portray linguistic diversity. In addition, the pronouns “our” and “us” along with the word “one” are repeated throughout this poem, emphasizing the unity all Americans can have as people under one country.
The illustrations further enhance the descriptive imagery of this poem. Pilkey uses vibrant colors to literally paint pictures of Blanco’s descriptions. The soft brush strokes used reflect the serenity described in the poem. These captivating images complement Blanco’s poetic language to make One Today a patriotic tribute to America that can be appreciated by both children and adults alike.
You can watch Blanco’s original reading of One Today at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkSRy8SGTEE