“Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.” — Barack Obama
There are very few moments in your life in which you are aware that this particular moment in time is going to change everything forever. Some of these moments include your wedding date, high school graduation, and the day a parent dies.
But every once in a while, you experience a moment that you know, as it is happening, is bigger than you. You know as each second goes from the present to the past that it is these moments that will be written down in history books and it is these moments that you’ll tell to your grandchildren later. One of these moments, I experienced in an Italian restaurant in Sikeston Missouri with, in addition to a whole crowd of people, a woman named Genesis: when the United States of America elected Barack Obama President of the United States. Another moment was today when I watched on my television in the relative comfort of my living room the swearing in of Barack Obama as President of the United States.
This was a big deal. This was a big deal for African Americans. This was a big deal for America. We have a President who likes to think, who encourages our input, and who isn’t afraid to answer our questions. He is not afraid of dissent and welcomes change. He’s a man who focuses on the positivity of hope for a better life rather than clinging to the fear of an unknown future and unknown violence on our borders.
We also have a man who came from the humblest of beginnings with the humblest of statures and raised himself up to become our President. He is the Horatio Alger success story. He is a man who could have done anything and chose to use his gifts to make the world a better place.
I can only imagine the number of kids sitting in schools across this country whose dreams will be just a little bigger, who will reach just a little bit further, and who will try just a little bit harder because of Obama. I wonder how many people will get out of the house and help their neighbors under Obama’s call to service.
Obama also changed America. Before Obama, the American ideal was the melting pot. People were supposed to come here and assimilate into the culture. When other cultures began to hold on to their identities, America seemed to get more fragmented, everyone was an African American, a Cuban-American, or some other and American. This change caused a level of divisiveness that was echoed in the McCain campaign with talk of the “real Americans” with “real American values.” The election of Obama bought in the notion that you can have a funny name or be from somewhere else and be a real American. The real America isn’t about assimilating to some standard, it’s about working hard and wanting to make life better for yourself and your kids. The real American value is going hand in hand with your neighbor to make the neighborhood a better place, no matter who he or she is.
I will look back on this day as a day as I was proud to be an American. I am proud to be a part of the Democratic process. This is the day that an African American with a funny man who wasn’t expected to win worked real hard and got to be President. This is the day we got tired of the scare tactics and decided to believe that things could get better.
I will look back on this day as a day where people gave apathy the heave ho and became empowered. They believed that Kennedy motto that they could do something for their country and that maybe their country could do something for them. It wasn’t just a place for a certain elite.
But now, I’m just going to sleep with a peace of mind, knowing that someone who is smart is thinking of ways to help the country.
Oh and could someone get Aretha Franklin’s hat for the Obama Presidential library? That hat was awesome.