Cuban-American Richard Blanco paid homage to the American experience in a poem he recited at the 57th Presidential Inauguration Monday, as the first Hispanic, openly gay and youngest person to be chosen as the inaugural poet.

Blanco recited 'One Today,' a poem that paints vivid scenes about America and includes reflections on his experience growing up as a son of Cuban exiles in New York City and Miami. Blanco, who is 44 years old, joined the ranks of legends like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost by being given the presidential honor.

'One Today'

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper -- bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives -- to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind -- our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me -- in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always -- home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country -- all of us --
facing the stars
hope -- a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it -- together

Blanco's whole experience as inaugural poet was posted on his Facebook page. He posted a photo of his partner, Mark, who joined Blanco for his special day, a picture of him practicing at the inaugural podium, as well as photos with actor Wilmer Valderrama and television anchor Jorge Ramos.

Blanco's poem evoked images of a day in America through the Great Lakes, Great Plains, fruit stands, traffic lights and silver trucks heavy with oil or paper.

He mentioned his mother, a grocery store worker for 20 years. He touched on his Latino culture saying in Spanish, "Buenos Días." He mentioned the "last floor on [Miami's] Freedom Tower, jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience." And even the tragedy at Newtown.

"All of us as vital as the one light we move through, the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day... or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain the empty desks of 20 children marked absent today, and forever," Blanco read.

And he ended with a message of unity.

And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country – all of us –
facing the stars
hope – a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it – together

Blanco’s selection came on the heels of a presidential election in which Latinos played a critical role, turning out at a record rate — about 10 percent of voters who cast ballots on Nov. 6 were Hispanic and about 71 percent of Latino voters picked Obama over his GOP challenger.

“His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity,” Obama said in a statement.

When Blanco was selected, he said he was "brimming over with excitement, awe, and gratitude.”

“In many ways, this is the very stuff of the American Dream, which underlies so much of my work and my life’s story —America’s story, really. I am thrilled by the thought of coming together during this great occasion to celebrate our country and its people through the power of poetry.”

Blanco’s works explore his family's exile and "the intersection of his cultural identities as a Cuban-American gay man," the inaugural planners said.

Blanco was born in Spain to a mother who worked as a bank teller and a father who was a bookkeeper.

The New York Times said in a story about the poet that he was named after Richard Nixon, admired by Blanco’s father because of the Republican president’s strong opposition to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Blanco moved to New York City with his parents when he was an infant, and then moved to Miami, where he was raised and educated. He worked as a consultant engineer while he pursued his poetry, and in 1999 joined the creative writing faculty at Central Connecticut State University until 2001. He later taught in various places, including American and Georgetown universities.

The inaugural committee noted that “Blanco's career as an English-language Latino poet gained momentum when his first collection, ‘City of a Hundred Fires,’ won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh.”

His second book of poetry, “Directions to The Beach of the Dead,” won the PEN American Center Beyond Margins Award.  His third collection, “Looking for The Gulf Motel,” was published in 2012.

Today, Blanco lives in Bethel, Maine, where he serves on various town committees.

On his Twitter page, he notes: “From Spain to Cuba to Miami to Connecticut to D.C. back to Miami and finally MAINE. Yes, a Cuban boy can be happy in the cold."