Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Proud to be an American

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.”
-President Barack Obama

I’m sitting watching as the Inauguration begins, proud to be an American. I’m so thankful for today. I helped elect Barack Obama. He is the first major candidate who I’ve voted for who has actually won… I’m such a sap when it comes to national anthems and patriotic songs—have you ever listened to the words of these songs? I mean, really listened… “Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride… let freedom ring.” How lucky I am to have born in this great nation! Sure, we may not do everything right, we might make some mistakes…but it could be much worse….I’m struck by YoYo Ma’s smile as he plays. He, too, is proud to be an American today. How surreal it must be to serenade the President-Elect just moments before he loses the “Elect.”

Having dived down deep into my genealogy, I can’t help but think about my own forefathers today. There are no politicians, few soldiers, and hardly anyone who’s worthy of a Wikipedia article, but yet, in their own quiet lives, they’ve loved, supported, and carried the weight of this nation on their backs… as they sharecropped, as they established businesses, as they raised their families.

I’ve heard some comments about how ridiculous it is for ordinary people, like you and me, to say today they felt like they were a part of history, by just being a part of the inaugural crowd. Those comments have been boiling inside of me. Today I was watching the inauguration live on C-SPAN while sitting in a classroom in Georgia, and I was a part of history. Obama was talking to me, just as he was talking to every other American. I become a part of history when I take part in the challenge that he set forth. Because I have chosen hope, I am hope, and I have hope, and that’s where history begins. If you don’t feel like you witnessed history today, whether you were freezing your butt off in D.C., streaming the coverage over the internet, or reading the transcripts online, then that’s your choice, but you’re welcome to take on the challenge with me—whoever you voted for.

My favorite line of the inaugural speech: “The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.” Must remember this for the next time I find myself defending my political position. I’m rarely so eloquent.


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